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. -. VI 







BY THE SAME AUTHOR, 
Uniform with the ' Queen of Connaught: 

MADGE DUNRAVEN, 



SOME OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" This is a novel of remarkable power. The interest is not 
only well sustained, but it is admirably- graduated, growing as 
one passes from chapter to chapter, and this without the aid of 
overdone incident or of affected sensationalism. The main com- 
plications are skilfully prepared for ; we recognise a great growth 
of cjnstructive power, as well as in knowledge of character and 
in simplicity and force of style. The work, in spite of the 
variety of character and the effective contrasts, has a true unity, 
and from first to last this unity is maintained ; and if we have 
here more of subtlety and of atmosphere than in any of the 
author's former novels, she has lost nothing in direct and effec- 
tive presentation. Nor has she lost anything of her fresh and 
vigorous descriptive skill." — Nonconformist. 

"The present story is well contrived and vigorously told, 
while the simplicity and warm-heartedness of the Irish character 
and some of the most desolate aspects of Irish scenery, are hit 
off with that delicacy and aecision of touch which denote a 
thorough familiarity with the subject." — Guardian. 

" Power and pain are the leading characteristics of the new 
Irish story by the author of 'The Queen of Connaught.' . . . 
There are no weaknesses in it. Madge and Conn are true to 
the life, and smack of the soil, superstition, and fervour of 
Ireland. Rosamond Leigh — a Cleopatra without the full 
courage of the flesh — is powerfully drawn." — Academy. 

*' It is hardly conceivable that any reader taking up this book 
will lay it down until the third volume has been finished ; and 
it may be added that whoever adopts so singular a proceeding 
will have lost a pleasure." — Morniny Post. 

" It is long since we have had before us so bright and fresh a 
novel as ' Madge Dunraven.' It is far too excellent for us to 
give prominence to its singularly few blemishes. It is good 
enough in all essentials to deserve exceptional popularity, it 
certainly deserves exceptional praise." — Globe. 

" As a sensational story, Madge Dimraven deserves to rank 
with the best productions in this class of fiction ; but it has 
merits of a higher order to our thinking, independent of its 
plot."— PaZ? Mall Gazette. 



VOL. n. 



TWO MEN AND A MAID. 

By HARRIETT JAY, 

AUTHOK OF "the QUEEN OF CONNAUGHT," ETC. 3 VOLS. 

Second Edition. 



Graphic says : — 

" Compared with the former works of the authoress 
of ' The Queen of Connaught,' this novel must be 
pronounced second to none." 

Sunday Times says : — 

" The gradual building up of the incidents preced- 
ing the wedding, and the dim foreshadowing of cata- 
strophe, are managed with such skill as to produce the 
greatest excitement of expectation." 

North British Daily Mail says : — 

" Abounding in pathetic incidents and strongly 
dramatic situations." 



LONDON: F. Y. WHITE & CO., 
31 Southampton Steeet, Strand. 



MY CONNAUGHT COUSINS, 



BY 



H A E R I E T T JAY, 

AUTHOK OF "THE QUEEX OF COXXAUGHT," "TWO MEN A^'H 
A MAID," ETC. ETC. 



TN THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL. II. 



LONDON: F. Y. WHITE & CO., 
31 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 



188 3. 
[All Rights reserved.'] 



F. V. WHITE & CO.'S 
SELECT NOVELS. 

Crown Svo, cloih^ 35". 6^. each. 



The following Volumes of the Series are now ready :— 
MY SISTER THE ACTRESS. By Florence Marryat. 

' " My Sister the Actress " is the best novel we have had the pleasure ot 
reading from the pen of Miss Marryat.' — Jokn Bull. 

THE DEAN'S WIFE. By Mrs Eiloart. 

' Any reader who wants a good story thoroughly well told cannot do better 
than read " The Dean's Wife." '—John Bull. 

A BROKEN BLOSSOM. By Florence Marryat. 

' A really charming story, full of delicate pathos and quiet humour ; 
pleasant to read and pleasant to remember.' — John Bull. 

TWO MEN AND A MAID. By Harriett Jay. 

' Compared with the former works of the authoress of "The Queen of 
Connaught," this novel must be pronounced second to none.' — Graphic. 

SWEETHEART AND WIFE. By Lady Constance 
Howard. 

'The story from first to last is attractive, and cannot fail to command 
wide favour.' — Whitehall Review. 

PHYLLIDA. By Florence Marryat. 

"' Phyllida " is a novel of which the author may be justly proud.' — 
Morning Post. 

BARBARA'S WARNING, By the Author of ' Recom- 
mended to Mercy.' 



COLSTON and son, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 



?cS 3 




MY CONMUGHT COUSINS. 



CHAPTER I. 

■N order to see all that there was 
J kM to be seen in Storport, I one 
tes^-fer^c^ evening accepted Shawn's in\d- 
tation to go with the boys to the herring- 
fishing. We started at sunset, and were 
out all night ; but as soon as the work was 
over, and the faint glimmering of dawn 
appeared in the east, we turned our boat's 
bow towards the shore, and pulled swiftly 

VOL. II. A 



2 My Connaught Cousins. 

homewards. There lay the group of cur- 
raghs, still upon the scene of their labour, 
loaded with phosphorescent fish and dripping 
nets, and manned with crews of shivering, 
weary men. The sea, which during the 
night had been throbbing convulsively, was 
calm and bright as a polished mirror, while 
the grey cliffs were faintly shadowed forth 
by the lustrous light of the moon. 

Wearied with my night's labour, I lay 
listlessly in the stern of the boat, listening 
dreamily to the measured splash, splash of 
the oars, and drinking in the beauty of the 
scene around me — the placid sea, the black 
outline of the hills and cliffs, the silently 
sleeping village of Storport. Presently, 
however, my ears detected another sound, 
which came faintly across the water, and 
mingled softly with the monotonous splash- 



My Connaught Cousins. 3 

ing of the oars and the weary washing of the 
sea. " Is it a mermaid singing ? " I asked 
sleepily; " the village maidens are all dream- 
ing of their lovers at this hour, but the 
Midian Maras sing of theirs. Oh, yes ; it 
must be a mermaid ! For hark ! the sound 
is issuing from the shore yonder, and surely 
no human being ever possessed a voice half 
so beautiful." 

To my question no one vouchsafed a 
reply, so I lay still half dozing, and 
listened to the plaintive wailing of the 
voice, which every moment grew stronger. 
It came across the water like the low sweet 
sound of an JEolian harp touched by the 
summer breeze ; and, as the boat glided 
swiftly on, bringing it ever nearer, the 
whole scene around seemed suddenly to 
brighten, as if from the touch of a magical 



4 My Connaught Cousins, 

hand. Above me sailed the moon, scatter- 
ing pale vitreous light around her, and 
touching with her cool white hand the 
yellow thatched cabins, lying so secluded 
on the hill-side, the long stretch of shim- 
mering sand, the fringe of foam upon the 
shingle, the peaks of the hills which stood 
silhoueUed against the pale grey sky. A 
white owl passing across the boat, and 
almost brushing my cheek with its wing, 
aroused me at length from my torpor. The 
sound of the voice had ceased. Above my 
head a flock of seagulls screamed, and, as 
they sailed away, I heard the whistle of the 
curlew ; little puffins were floating thick as 
bees around us, wild rock-doves flew swiftly 
from the caverns, and beyond again the cor- 
morants blackened the weed-covered rocks. 
The splash of our oars had for a moment 



My Connaught Cousins. 5 

created a commotion ; presently all calmed 
down again, and again I heard the plaintive 
wailing of the mermaid's song. The voice, 
more musical than ever, was at length so 
distinct as to bring with it the words of the 
ditty :— 

"My Owen Bawn's hair is of thread gold spun ; 
Of gold in the shadow, of light in the sun ; 
All curled in a coolun the bright tresses are, 
Thej make his head radiant with beams like a star. 

My Owen Bawn's mantle is long and is wide, 
To wrap me up safe from the storm by his side ; 

And I'd rather face snowdrift, and winter wind there, 
Than be among daisies and sunshine elsewhere. 

My Owen Bawn Con is a bold fisherman, 
He spears the strong salmon in midst of the Bann ; 
And, rocked in the tempest, on stormy Lough Neagh, 
Draws up the red trout through the bursting spray." 

The voice suddenly ceased, and as it did 
so, I saw that the singer was a young girl, 
who, with her hands clasped behind her, 



6 My Connaught Cousins, 

and her face turned to the moonlit sky, 
walked slowly along the shore. Suddenly 
she paused, and while the sea kissed her bare 
feet, and the moon laid tremulous hands 
upon her head, began to sing again : — 

** I have called my love, but he still sleeps on, 
And his lips are as cold as clay ; 
I have kissed them o'er and o'er again ; 
I have pressed his cheek with my burning brow, 
And I've watched o'er him all the day ; 
Is it then true that no more thou'lt smile 

On Moina 1 
Art thou then lost to thy Moina % 

I once had a lamb my love gave rae. 

As the mountain snow 'twas white ; 

Oh, how I loved it, nobody knows ; 

I decked it each morn with the myrtle rose. 

With "forget-me-nots" at night; 

My lover they slew, and they tore my lamb 

From Moina ! 
They pierced the heart's core of poor Moina ! " 

As the last words fell from her tremu- 



My Connaught Cousins, 7 

lous lips, and the echoes of the sweet voice 
faded far away across the sea, the boat 
gliding gently in, ran her bow into the 
sand, and I, leaping out, came suddenly 
face to face with the loveliest vision I 
had ever beheld. "Is it a mermaid?" I 
asked myself again, for surely, I thought, 
no human being could be half so lovely. 
I saw a pale Madonna-like face, set in a 
wealth of golden hair, on which the moon- 
lio^ht briorhtened and darkened like the 
shadows on a wind-swept sea. Large 
lustrous eyes, which gazed earnestly sea- 
ward, then filled with a stranore wanderinoj 
far-oflf look, as they turned to my face. 
A young girl, clad in a peasant's dress, 
with her bare feet washed reverently by 
the sighing sea ; her half-parted lips 
kissed by the breeze which travelled 



8 My Connaught Cousins, 

slowly shoreward ; lier cheeks and neck 
were pale as alabaster, so were the little 
hands, which were still clasped half nerv- 
ously behind her ; and as she stood, with 
her eyes wandering restlessly, first to my 
face, then to the dim line of the horizon, 
the moon, brightening with sudden splen- 
dour, wrapt her from head to foot in a 
mantle of shimmering snow. For a 
moment she stood gazing with a peculiar 
far-away look into my face ; then, with a 
sigh, she turned away, and, with her face 
still turned oceanward, her hands still 
clasped behind her, wandered slowly along 
the moonlit sands. As she went, fading 
like a spirit amid the shadows, I heard 
again the low sweet sound of the plaintive 
voice which had come to me across the 
ocean, but soon it grew fainter and 



My Connaugkt Cousins, 9 

fainter, until only the echoes were heard. 
I turned to ray boatman, who now stood 
waiting for me to depart. 

" Well, Shawn, is it a mermaid ? " I 
asked, smiling. He gravely shook his 
head. 

"No, yer honor; 'tis only a poor col- 
leen wid a broken heart ! " 

I turned and looked questioningly at 
him, but he was gazing at the spot 
whence the figure of the girl had dis- 
appeared. 

"God Almighty, risht the dead!" he 
said reverently, raising his hat, " but 
him that brought such luck to Mary 
O'Connell deserved his curse, God knows ! " 

This incident, coupled with the strange 
manner of my man, interested me, and I 
began to question him as to the story of 



lo My Connaught Cousins. 

the girl, whose lovely face was still vividly 
before me. But for some reason or other, 
he seemed to shun the subject, so I too 
held my peace, and we walked on in silence 
to the Lodge. 

It was only about four o'clock in the 
morning, so, of course, we found the 
Lodge as quiet as a tomb, and everybody 
fast asleep. We entered noiselessly by 
the back way. Shawn remained in the 
kitchen, I went on to the dining-room. 
My supper was laid on the table ; in the 
grate were a few smouldering sods of turf, 
which when knocked together, blazed out 
into a roaring fire. I lifted the kettle 
which stood simmering upon the hob, and 
placed it on the blaze, when it boiled, I 
mixed two stiff glasses of grog, and called 
in Shawn to keep me company. 



My Connattght Coicsins. 1 1 

"Now, Shawn," I said, holding forth a 
steaming goblet which made his eyes sparkle 
like two stars, "close the door, draw your 
chair up to the fire, diink ofi* this, and tell 
me the story of the lovely colleen whom we 
saw to-night." 

" Would yer honor really like to hear ? " 

" I would ; it will give me something to 
dream about, and prevent me from thinking 
too much of her pretty face." 

Shawn smiled gravely. 

"Yer honor thinks her pretty? Well, 
then, yell believe me when I tell ye that, if 
ye was to search the counthry at the present 
moment, ye couldn't find a colleen to match 
Mary O'Connell. When she was born, the 
neighbours thought she must be a fairy child, 
she was so pretty, and small, and white ; 
and when she got older, there wasn't a boy 



12 My Connaught Cousins. 

in Storport but would lay down his life for 
her. Boys wid fortunes, and boys widout 
fortunes, tried to get her, and, begging yer 
honor's pardon, I went myself in wid the 
rest. But it went one way wid us all. 
Mary just smiled, and said she did not want 
to marry. But one day, two years ago now 
come this Serapht, that lazy shaughraun, 
Miles Doughty (God rest his soul !) came 
over from Ballygally, and going straight to 
Mary, without making up any match at all, 
asked her to marry him ! " 

"Well?" 

"Well, yer honor, this time Mary bright- 
ened up, and though she knew well enough 
that Miles was a dirty blackguard, without a 
penny in the world — though the old people 
said no, and there was plenty fortunes in 
Storport waitin' on her — she just went 



My Connaught Cousins. 13 

against every one of them, and said she 
must marry Miles. The old people pulled 
against her at first, but at last Mary, with 
her smiles and pretty ways, won over Father 
John, who won over the old people, till at 
last they said that if Miles would go for a 
while to the black pits of Pennsylvania, and 
earn the money to buy a house and a bit of 
land, he should marry her ! " 

He paused, and for a time there was 
silence. Shawn looked thoughtfully into 
the fire ; I lay back in my easy-chair, and 
carelessly watched the smoke which curled 
from my cigar, and as I did so I seemed to 
hear again the wildly plaintive voice of the 
girl as I had heard it before that night, — 

" I have called my love, but he still sleeps on, 
And his lips are as cold as clay ! " 

and as the words of the song passed through 



14 My Connaught Cousins. 

my mind, they seemed to tell me the sequel 
of the story. 

" Another case of disastrous true love," I 
said, turning to Shawn ; and when he looked 
puzzled, I added, — " He died, and she is 
mourning him ? " 

*'Yes, yer honor, he died; but if that 
was all he did, we would forgive him. "What 
broke the poor colleen's heart was that he 
should forget her when he got to the strange 
land, and marry another colleen at the time 
he should have married Tier. After that it 
was but right that he should die ! " 

" Did he write and tell her he was 
married ? " 

" Write ? Devil the bit, nor to tell he 
was dead neither ! Here was the poor 
colleen watching and waiting for him for 
two whole years, and wondering what could 



My Connaught Cousins. 1 5 

keep him ; but a few months ago, Owen 
Magrath, a boy who had gone away from 
the village long ago on account of Mary 
refusing to marry him, came back again, and 
told Mary that Miles was dead, and asked 
her to marry him. He had made lots of 
money, and was ready to take a house and 
a bit of land, and to buy up cattle, if she 
would but say the word to him." 

"Well?" 

"Well, yer honor, Mary just shook her 
head, and said that now Miles was dead 
'twas as well for her to die too. At this 
Owen spoke out, and asked where was the 
use of grieving so, since for many months 
before his death Miles had been a married 
man ! Well, when Owen said this Mary 
never spoke a single word, but her teeth 
set, and her lips and face went white and 



1 6 My Connaught Cousins. 

cold as clay, and ever since that day she 
has been so strange in her ways that some 
think she's not right at all. On moonlight 
nights she creeps out of the house and 
walks by the sea singing them strange old 
songs, then she looks out as if expecting 
him to come to her, and, right or wrong, 
she'll never look at another man ! '* 

As Shawn finished, the hall clock chimed 
five, the last spark faded from my cigar, 
the turf fell low in the grate, so I went 
to bed to think over the story alone. 

During the three days which followed 
this midnight adventure, Storport was 
visited \j a deluge of rain, but on the 
fourth morning I looked from my window 
to find the earth basking in summer sun- 
shine. The sky was a vault of throbbing 



My Connaiight Cousins, 17 

blue, flecked here and there with waves of 
summer cloud, the stretches of sand grew 
golden in the sun-rays, while the hills were 
glistening bright as if from the smiling sky. 
The sight revivified me, and, as soon as my 
breakfast was over, I whistled up my dogs 
and strolled out into the air. How bright 
and beautiful everything looked after the 
heavy rain ! The ground was spongy to 
the tread, the dew still lay heavily upon 
the heather and long grass ; but the sun 
seemed to be sucking up golden beams from 
the bog. Everybody seemed to be out that 
day, and most people were busy. Old men 
drove heavily laden donkeys along the 
muddy road, young girls carried their 
creels of turf across the bog, and by the 
roadside, close to where I stood, the turf- 
cutters were busy. I paused for a while 

VOL. II. . B 



1 8 My Connatight Cousins, 

and watched them at their work, and when 
I turned to go, I saw for the first time that 
I had not been alone. Not many yards 
from me stood a figure watching the turf- 
cutters too. A young man dressed like a 
grotesque figure for a pantomime, with high 
boots, felt hat cocked rakishly over one eye, 
and a vest composed of all the colours of 
the rainbow. His big brown fingers were 
profusely bedecked with brass and steel 
rings, a massive brass chain swung from 
his waistcoat, and an equally showy pin 
adorned the scarf at his throat. 

"When the turf-cutters, pausing suddenly 
in their work, gazed at him with wonder in 
their eyes, he gave a peculiar smile, and 
asked, with a strong Yankee accent, if 
they could tell him where one Mary 
O'Connell lived; he was a stranger here, 



My Connatight Cousins. 19 

and brought her news from the States. In 
a moment a dozen fingers were outstretched 
to point him on, and the stranger, again 
smiling to himself, swaggered away. I 
stood for a time and watched him go, then 
I, too, sauntered on. I turned off from 
the road, crossed the bog, and made direct 
for the sea-shore. 

I had been walking there for some 
quarter of an hour, when suddenly a shadow 
was flung across my path, and looking 
up, I again beheld the stranger. His 
hat was pushed back now, and I saw for 
the first time that his face was hand- 
some. His cheeks were bronzed and 
weather - beaten, but his features were 
finely formed, and on his head clustered 
a mass of curling, chesnut hair. He 
was flushed as if with excitement : he 



20 My Connaught Cousins, 

cast a hurried glance about liim, and dis- 
appeared. 

Five minutes later, as I still stood 
wondering at the strange behaviour of the 
man, my ears were greeted with a shriek 
which pierced to my very heart. Eunning 
in the direction whence the sound pro- 
ceeded, I reached the top of a neighbouring 
sandhill, and gazing into the valley below 
me, I again beheld the stranger. This 
time his head was bare, his arms were 
outstretched, and he held upon his breast 
the half-fainting form of the lovely girl 
whom I had last beheld in the moonlight. 
While I stood hesitating as to the utility 
of descending, I saw the girl gently with- 
draw herself from his arms, then clasping 
her hands around his neck, fall sobbing on 
his breast. 



My Connatight Cousins. 21 

"Well, Shawn, what's the news?" I 
asked that night, when Shawn rushed 
excitedly into my room. For a time he 
could tell me nothing, but by dint of a 
few well-applied questions I soon extracted 
from him the whole story. It amounted 
to this, — that after working for two years 
like a galley-slave in the black pits of 
Pennsylvania, with nothing but the thought 
of Mary to help him on, Miles Doughty 
found himself with enough money to war- 
rant his coming: home : that he was about 
to return to Storport, when, unfortunately, 
the day before his intended departure a 
shaft in the coal-pit fell upon him, and he 
was left for dead ; that for many months 
he lay ill, but as soon as he was fit to 
travel he started for home. Arrived in 
Storport, he was astonished to find that 



2 2 My Connaught Cousins. 

no one recognised him, and he was about 
to pass himself off as a complete stranger, 
when the news of his reported death and 
Mary's sorrow so shocked him that he 
determined to make himself known at 
once. 

"And God help the villain that told 
her he was married," concluded Shawn, 
" for he swears he'll kill him as soon as 
Mary — God bless her ! — comes out o' the 
fever that's she's in to-night ! " 

Shortly after that night I found myself 
sitting with Oona and Aileen in the hut 
where Mary O'Connell dwelt. The cabin 
was illuminated so brightly that it looked 
like a spot of fire upon the bog, the rooms 
in the house were crowded, and without, 
dark figures gathered as thick as bees in 
swarming time. Miles Doughty, clad 



My Connaught Cousins. 23 

rather less gaudily than when I first be- 
held him, moved amidst the throng with 
bottle and glass, pausing now and again 
to look affectionately at Mary, who, deco- 
rated with her bridal flowers, was dancing 
with one of the " straw men " who had come 
to do honour to her marriage-feast. When 
the dance was ended, she came over and 
stood beside me. 

" Mary," I whispered, " do you remember 
that night when I heard you singing songs 
upon the sand ? " 

Her face flushed brightly, then it grew 
grave, and finally her eyes filled with 
tears. 

" My dear," I added, " I never meant to 
pain you. I only want you to sing a 
sequel to those songs to-night." 

She laughed lightly, then she spoke 



24 My Connaught CoMsins. 

rapidly in Irish, and merrily sang the 
well-known lines, — 

" Oh, the marriage, the marriage, 
With love and mo bouchal for me ; 
The ladies that ride in a carriage 
Might envy my marriage to me." 

Then she was laughingly carried off to 
join in another dance. 

We joined in the fun till midnight, then, 
though the merriment was still at its height, 
we quietly left the cabin, and walked back 
to the Lodge. 

" Cousin Jack," said Biddy, after we had 
recounted our evening's adventure to the 
girls at home, and were about to retire for 
the night, "are you tired of this sort of 
thing ? " 

*' Not at all. Why ? " 

"Because I should like to take my day 



My Connaiight Cousins. 25 

to-morrow, and show you how real matri- 
monial matches are made in Connaught. 
May I?" 

I assented, and cordially agreed to place 
myself on the following day at Bridget's 
sole disposal. 





CHAPTER 11. 

E'LL just throw in another 
heifer, and we'll settle the 
matter at onst." 
" Another heifer ! Troth, thin, I never 
will. Don't ye know already that Norah 
has the biggest fortune of any girl in Stor- 
port ? There's five cows, four milch cows, 
and one in calf; and two fat pigs ready 
for rent day ; a strong donkey for drawing 
turf, and three pounds in gold." 

" And if she has, what is it ? Hasn't 
my boy got a good house and bit o' land, 



My Connaught Cousins. 27 

and, forby that, a strong mule and a good 
cart ? There's plenty fortunes in the vil- 
lage that's waitin for him, believe me, so, 
if ye don't throw in the heifer, I'll just 
take myself to another house, and your 
Norah may wait as she is till next Serapht." 

The foregoing sentences, uttered fiercely 
by two ragged-looking men, greeted our 
ears as we stepped into Patrick Macder- 
mot's cabin, and, shaking the rain from our 
outer garments, made our way swiftly 
towards the fire. 

"After all," murmured Bridget, as we 
took our seat upon the form, and held our 
hands over the flame, " I am glad we are 
not too late." 

Though she had sj)ent many a Shrovetide 
in Ireland, though she had been to dozens 
of match-makings, and seen hundreds of 



28 My Con7iaught Cousins, 

buxom girls haggled over and finally dis- 
posed of as if they had been sheep, she had 
never before, she said, been so interested. 
For there was a novelty in this case. Senti- 
iDent had been introduced, and was likely 
to spoil the proceedings. Norah Macdermot 
had transgressed the rules which had been 
enforced by her people from generation to 
generation. Instead of living quietly, as 
other girls had to do, instead of closing her 
beautiful eyes to any little fascinations 
which happened to be possessed by any of 
the male population of Storport, and giving 
her ready consent to any match which her 
parents liked to make for her, she had 
actually been mad enough to fall in love, 
and that, too, with a good-looking shaugh- 
raun, whose position in life did not entitle 
him to become the possessor of her hand. 



My Connaught Cousins, 29 

Our entrance caused a momentary cessa- 
tion of the proceedings, and ere the belli- 
gerents began again, I took a glance around 
the room to discover who mio;ht be our 
companions. There in a corner, crouched 
beside the fire, was Norah's mother, a 
little, wizened old woman of sixty ; her 
two stalwart brothers sat on the form by 
my side ; some dozen of the neighbours were 
sprinkled about the floor ; and yes, I could 
not be mistaken, a little distance behind 
them all, half-shrinking back into the 
gloom, but gazing with fix^d anxiety at 
the speakers, was Norah herself She 
looked very pretty that night. Her large 
dark eyes were moist with tears, her 
full, petulant lips were quivering, and 
her little delicate fingers clenched and 
unclenched themselves in nervous dread. 



o 



o My Connaught Cousins. 

In a moment of impulse I made my way 
across the kitchen, sat down by the girFs 
side, and took her hand sympathetically 
in mine. She turned her face to me, and 
I felt that her heart was throbbing, her 
hands burning like fire. 

" Who is the boy, Norah ? " I whispered, 
bending towards her. 

She shook her head. 

" I think they say he comes from Bally- 
gaily." 

" What ! have you not seen him % " 

"No!" 

At this point the girl half-rose from her 
seat and fixed her anxious eyes again upon 
the central figures in the room. Turning, 
I perceived that the old woman had left her 
seat by the fire, and had gone to join in the 
discussion. 



My Connaiight Cousi7is. 31 

" Will ye take a small sow, Shamus Beg ? 
Toney would make it a sow." 

"I would not, then," returned her hus- 
band decidedly ; and Norah sighed, relieved. 

Shamus Beg picked up his hat and pre- 
pared to take his departure. 

"Is that your last word, Toney Mac- 
dermot ? " he asked ; and Toney, sobered 
a little by this decisive movement, replied 
slowly, — 

** Troth, an it is, thin, unless, indeed, 
ye'll take a couple of pigs out o' the litter 
there, and make the matter right." 

Shamus walked over to the corner, and 
gazed meditatively at the litter of pigs 
which were reposing upon the straw. 

" Will ye say three, Shawn Macdermot ? " 
he asked, after a few moments' thought. 

'* No, I will not say three ! " 



32 My Connaught Cousins, 

" You will not ? Well, would two and 
a couple of hens be any loss on ye ? " 

Toney considered, and as lie did so the 
girl's face grew white and red by turns, 
her lips parted with her eager breathing. 
She half-stretched forth her hand again, 
for she saw that her mother was about to 
speak. 

" Ye'll make it the couple o' hens and 
pigs, Toney, and say no more about it. 
Sure there isn't as good a house in Bally- 
gaily as Shamus Beg's, and forby that, 
there's our Biddy to be fortuned next 
Serapht, if Norah is out of the way. 
Settle it at once, and say no more." 

Thus pressed, Toney relented, the two 
friends shook hands over their bargain, 
while the girl, white as any corpse, 
shrank further into the shade. 



Aly Connaiight Cousins, 'iy'^ 

Business being over, pleasure began, 
and as pleasure in Ireland usually takes 
the form of a plentiful supply of whisky, 
it flowed in a perfect stream. The bash- 
ful swain, who had taken refuge in a 
neiorhbourinor cabin while the matter was 
being arranged, was summoned, and came. 
He entered the cabin, and as he did so, 
I felt that the girl's start of astonishment 
communicated itself to me. Could this be 
the "boy" to whom they had sold pretty, 
petulant Norah Macdermot ? A man of 
forty, hideous in face, deformed in figure, 
an evident bully and t}Tant. As the 
girl was led up to him, she gave a 
scream, and burst into violent weeping, 
but the storm did not last. In five 
minutes she had choked do^^Ti her sobs 
and was smiling upon the hideous monster, 

VOL. II. C 



34 My Connaught Cousins. 

and the smile did not die even when she 
was told that in the short space of two 
days she and Corney Beg would become 
one. 

"And so, after all," I reflected, "Norali 
is disposed of in the usual way. Though 
she was sentimental enough to give away 
her heart, her hand has been easily dis- 
posed of by her parents ; and although 
they have chosen so badly, she must 
abide by their will. Life is made up of 
customs. It would take a strong man's 
will to break through old-established rules, 
such as that by which the girl has been 
bought and sold." 

It was late ere we rose to go. The 
kitchen, which had been gradually filling 
all the evening, was now crammed to 
sufi*ocation. The whisky had taken good 



My Connaiight Cousins. 35 

effect. Some of the company were uproarious 
in their merriment, while others had com- 
pletely collapsed. Close beside the fire, ^"ith 
his ugly head resting against a bedpost, 
his broad, flat nose emitting anything but 
musical sounds, sat the hero of the even- 
ing. But where was his bride elect ? 
Although I could not help feeling some 
disgust that she should have yielded so 
smilingly to these well-laid plans, I should 
have liked, ere I departed, to have wished 
her the customary good luck. I glanced 
keenly at the oddly- mixed crowd, but I 
could find no trace of her, so I c[uietly 
made my way towards the door, and 
departed with Bridget unseen. 

A keen wind blew from the north, the 
hills were white with sleet, and the black- 
ened sky above portended an early fall 



36 My Connaught Cousins. 

of snow. The wind was bitter, as we 
took a short cut across the fields, and 
walked swiftly homewards. Ere we had 
gone many yards, however, we paused 
suddenly, the soft grass had muffled our 
footsteps, and we had approached unheard 
to within a few feet of two figures, those 
of a man and a woman, who, standing 
on the other side of the grassy bank 
which surrounded the field, were talking 
earnestly in low, subdued tones. I usually 
despise an eavesdropper, yet I played the 
part of one. Bridget held me firmly, 
for we had both recognised the voice of 
one of the figures. It belonged to Norah 
Macdermot. 

" Hush, now, Owen dear ! " I heard her 
whisper, as, aided by the friendly turf, I 
approached a step or two nearer. ^' Sure, 



My Connaught Cousins. 37 

ye don't think I'd be fool enough to marry 
the ugly omadhaun, when it's your own 
self that's wan tin' me all the while ? " 

"WTiat can ye do at all, now you've 
let them make the match and settle it all 
so nate ? " returned Owen, sullenly. 

" Well, this is what I'll do. When I go 
to bed to-night, I'll lave my dress on ; the 
kitchen door shall be a bit open, and my 
windy unfastened. Now, ye'll just wait 
about the house till ye see me quench my 
light, then ye'll know that they're all safe 
asleep. So you'll jist get a couple o' 
strong boys to aid ye, and ye'll creep into 
the house and carry me off. Now, ye 
know well enough, Owen dear, that if ye 
can only get me a hundred yards from the 
house, ye are safe to keep me, because 
neither Corney Beg nor any dacent boy in 



J 



8 My Connaught Cousins, 



Storport would take me after that, if Fd 
double tlie fortune ! " 

" And don't ye call meself a dacent boy, 
Norah darlln' ? " 

" Sure enough, Owen dear ; but then 
you know what the others don't know, 
that we planned the runaway atween us, 
just to get our own way afther all." 

After listening to the foregoing conver- 
sation, I stood for a few moments in hesita- 
tion. The future of that girl was entirely 
in my hands. By stepping back to the 
hut which I had quitted, and whispering a 
word or two in the old people's ears, I 
could have frustrated all her well-laid 
plans, and condemned her to spend her 
days as the wife of Corney Beg. I now 
understood the reason of the sudden stifling 
of the sobs which had involuntarily burst 



My Connaught Cousins. 39 

from the girl at the sight of her hideous 
lover. I now understood, too, the meaning 
of the strange smile which flitted over her 
face when she was told that ere forty- 
eight hours had passed she would become 
that monster's wife. The girl had been 
acting a part, throwing dust in the eyes of 
the company, in order to insure the success 
of her scheme. Should I retrace my steps ? 
I did not feel at all inclined to do so ; 
indeed, after another moment of hesitation, 
I took Bridget's hand upon my arm, walked 
swiftly towards the Lodge, and left the 
lovers to conclude their interview alone. 

" Och, murther, if it's not a cryin shame 
on the whole place ! " were the first words 
which greeted my ears in the morning, as, 
languidly opening my eyes after a troubled 



40 My Connaught Cousins. 

sleep, I saw the maid pulling back the 

curtains from my window, and admitting 

the dim light of day. 

" Well, Mary, what's the matter ? " 

*' I'm ashamed to say what's the matter, 

and that's the truth ! " exclaimed Mary 
modestly, " 'tis such a disgrace to Stor- 

port ! " 

Being quite aware that her feminine 
love of gossiping would not allow her to 
keep silent on the subject, I judiciously 
held my peace, and soon heard the whole 
story. It was merely this, that as soon as 
the Macdermots were comfortably asleep 
on the night before, " that thief o' the 
world, Owen O'Neil," as he w\as called, 
entered the house, and stole away the 
girl who had been refused to him, and 
promised to another ; that, awakened by 



My Connatight Cousins. 41 

the cries of the girl, the whole household 
had been aroused ; and that the villain had 
been captured ere he got many hundred 
yards from the house, taken into custody, 
and handed over to the police. 

" And there he'll stop, I hope," con- 
cluded the indignant Mary. " A nice 
beginning for Serapht, indeed. A fine 
thing if a boy can take away a dacent 
girl's character, and get nought done to 
him after all ! " 

The narrative excited me. I dressed hast- 
ily, and as hastily stepped down to Toney 
Macdermot's hut. Here all was confusion ; 
and, ere I put my head in at the door, 
I perceived that Norah's prophecy of the 
previous night was surely coming true. 
The bashful swain had just been with his 
father to break off the match ; the girl's 



42 My Connaught Cousins. 

mother and father were in tears ; her two 
brothers scowled at her like infuriated 
bears ; but her face seemed to me to be 
brighter than I had seen it for many a 
day. 

For some time the old people were 
inconsolable ; at last their grief subsided. 
Being well aware that, after the escapade 
of the night before, no boy in the place 
would make a match with poor Norah, 
they were only too glad to hush the 
matter up, and hand over her and her 
fortune to Owen O'Neil. So Owen was 
released from the barrack, and, at Norah's 
request, invited to spend the evening at 
her fathers house. Whether or not 
Norah's treachery was ever discovered, I 
never learned. I only know that, in 
two days after that memorable night, 



My Co7inaught Cousins, 



43 



she was married to Owen, and that dur- 
ing her married life she has never once 
missed giving " a dance " on the first night 
of Shrovetide. 




CHAPTEE III. 




Y day promises to be fine," said 
Nora, the next morning, as, 
flushed and panting from an 
early walk, she met me on the threshold 
of the Lodge. "I had my breakfast an 
hour ago, and went down to the ferry to 
see that everything was right. There's 
no wind for sailing — which is rather a 
pity, isn't it ? for the Ariel goes like 
a bird ; but I have made Shawn put in 
the sail, in case the breeze gets up later 
in the day.'* 



My Connatight Cousins. 45 

'* And what about the rowing, Nora ? " 
asked my uncle ; " have you sent for 
ConoUy?" 

" He isn't at home, papa," returned 
Nora ; "so I've got Mickie and Patsey 
' the ferry,' and I thought you would like 
to take Shawn." 

** Yes, we'll take Shawn. Then is every- 
thing down, Nora ? " 

" Everything, I think, papa. There's 
your guns, your brown waterproof bag, 
full of cartridges, and the fishing-lines." 

"And the dogs," I added. 

" Oh, we mustn't take them ! " said 
Nora. " You won't get any shooting 
till you get to Cruna, and then you 
can borrow Mr Dunroon's doo^s. When 

C/ 

he comes over here, he uses papa's 
dogs always, and he'd be dreadfully 



46 My Co7inaitght Cotisins. 

offended if we wouldn't return the com- 
pliment." 

As we had nothing to see to, we agreed 
to start at once, and in five minutes more 
we were on our way to the sea. 

Only three of the girls, Kate, Nora, 
and Oona, were coming wdth us. Aileen 
and Biddy had generously volunteered to 
keep house in Kate's absence. Ever since 
that unfortunate overturning of the boat, 
Amy could never be persuaded to go on 
the water. 

We found the boat waiting for us at the 
ferry, and though sorely pressed by the 
ferryman to enter the shebeen and have 
"just one glass," we resisted — embarked, 
pushed off, and rowed out to sea. Two 
of Shawn's big brothers and the old ferry- 
man were on the shore, while in the fields 



My Connatight Cottsins. 47 

just above, quite a little crowd of hoys 
and girls had collected to watch us row 
away. 

The day was indeed gloriously fine. A 
shower of sunshine had come to melt 
away the early frost ; but though the sky 
w^as blue and the sun - rays were warm, 
the air had in it a touch of winter chilli- 
ness still. AYe took a few^ strokes straio;ht 
out to sea, then turned the boat's bow 
and continued our course, keeping within 
a couple of oar's-length from the sand. 
As we went, I looked back at the village, 
and saw it lying basking in a golden 
blaze of sunlight. Far away, the cliffs w^ere 
wrapt in a hazy mist, the jagged crags 
and rounded summits clearly discernible 
against a bluish-grey sky. The w^ild waters 
of the Atlantic were hushed in oily calm, 



48 My Connaught Cousins. 

and mirrored in the glassy surface were 
the surrounding hills. Not a ripple was 
on the bar as we glided gently over it, 
and not a sound was heard save the splash, 
splash of the oars, as we silently sat 
and enjoyed the beauty of the scene. 

Once over the bar, the men rested on 
their oars, and looked to my uncle for 
instructions. He passed the look on to 
Nora, who was spokes -woman for the 
day. 

'' I think," said she, '' we had better 
begin with a row round the cliffs ; it's 
on our way. They are well worth seeing ; 
and you might get a few pigeons. After- 
wards we can strike out to sea and make 
straight for Cruna." 

The proposition being agreed to, the 
boat's bow was turned towards the cliflfs, 



My Connaught Cousins. 49 

and sped on before the powerful strokes 
of our three sturdy boatmen. I had 
offered no opposition to the plan ; indeed, 
at that moment I felt too lazily happy to 
oppose anything. I was stretched, half 
reclining, half sitting, among the rugs in 
the stern, close to Oona. When I w^as 
not looking at the scenery I w^as covertly 
watching her ; and in my own mind I 
judged the latter prospect the fairer of 
the two. 

She certainly looked very charming that 
day, clad in an elegantly-cut costume of 
serge, of the palest blue, with her golden 
hair half hidden beneath the soft brim of 
a blue hat. She had on her lap a volume 
of old legends which I had recommended 
her to read, and her gentle, dreamy eyes 
roamed hither and thither, as if in search 

VOL. II. D 



50 My Connaught Cousins. 

of materials for her stories which she 
worked at so persistently at home. 

Suddenly the sound of my name aroused 
me from my reverie. I looked at Nora, 
who had addressed me, and, in obedience 
to her instructions, I put a couple of cart- 
ridges into my gun, passed the oarsmen, 
and placed myself in the boat's bow. I 
saw now that we were approaching the 
cliffs, a dark, grey mass, which rose above 
us to an enormous height, completely cut- 
ting off all the rays of the sun, and plung- 
ing us in cold shadow. It was like passing 
from summer to winter, from day to night. 

For a time we paddled about at their 
base, entering narrows, black creeks and 
corners, and dark, secluded bays. Now 
and then the rowers rested upon their 
oars to give a splash and a shout. I 



My Connatight Cousins, 51 

crouched in the bow, expectant, gun in 
hand, but beyond a few sand larks which 
had been wading in the shallows, and a 
frightened cormorant which flew out to 
sea, we could find nothing. The men 
phlegmatically returned to their work, and 
we again sped onwards. 

Then we entered a narrow passage, cut 
between two enormous cliffs, one of which 
pointed needle-like to the sky. The water 
below appeared to be as black as ebony ; the 
cliffs almost black, and perfectly barren. 

The boat paused. 

" Look out, yer honor," cried Shawn ; 
and he placed his hands over his mouth, 
and whistled shiilly and loud. 

" Look out. Jack, there they are ; blaze 
away, my boy," cried my uncle ; and I did 
blaze away with both my barrels, and 

^Y OF llUMOtt 



52 My Connaught Cousins. 

looked about for the result. Alas ! there 
was none. Half-a-dozen rock-pigeons, look- 
ing small as starlings, high in the air passed 
swiftly over the top of the cliff and dis- 
appeared. I was so chagrined by my ill- 
luck that I forgot to reload ; luckily my 
uncle was on the qui vive, so the next brace 
that came out, fell like stones to his two 
barrels. 

**Are ye ready, yer honor?" said Shawn, 
looking at me rather gloomily; and upon 
my answering in the affirmative, he put his 
hands over his mouth, and whistled again, 
while his brothers rattled and splashed with 
the oars. Three more birds flew swiftly 
out, and again my barrels were discharged, 
but nothing fell ; then a straggler whizzed 
like a bullet over our heads, and fell to 
my uncle's gun. 



Aly Connaught Cousins, 53 

I looked round, and asked him how he 
managed it. 

" 'Tis because I'm accustomed to the 
motion of the boat, and you're not," he 
returned quietly. " Shawn, are they all 
out, do you think ? — if so, we'll go on to the 
next cave, and give Mr Stedman another 
chance." 

They evidently were all gone, for, though 
Shawn whistled and his brothers shouted 
and splashed, no more birds appeared. We 
picked up those already dead, and went 
on. Soon we came to another cavern, even 
larger than the last. 

" Jack," cried my uncle, ** put some cart- 
ridges in 3^our pocket, for we re going to 
land you, you'll shoot steadier from the 
rock." 

He spoke rapidly to the men in Irish, 



54 My Connaught Cousins, 

and the boat was rowed up to a huge mass 
of rock, which, it being low tide, was 
uncovered, and which lay just outside the 
mouth of the cave. The water was turbu- 
lent here, and the boat rose and fell tumul- 
tuously; but I watched my chance, and 
succeeded in leaping safely out. Once I 
was landed, the boat pushed rapidly off, 
and disappeared into the cavern. 

I set my teeth in grim determination, my 
late ignominious failures having made me 
doggedly determined to succeed, and I soon 
proved that my uncle was right ; with the 
steady rock beneath my feet, I shot well ; 
three pigeons fell to my gun, and when the 
boat returned to take me on board, after 
having picked up my spoil, Shawn's face 
was transformed. 

"After all, a bad beginning is better 



My Connaught Cousins. 55 

than a bad ending," said Oona. "Look, 
Nora, when we get out a bit, we shall find 
breeze enough to sail to Cruna." 

And she was right ; as soon as we were 
well away from the shelter of the cliffs, we 
hoisted the sail, and the Ariel, guided by 
my uncle's steady hand, breasted the waves 
like a bird. 

Three hours' sailinor broug;ht us well 
within shelter of Cruna. 

It was a solitary island, rising up to an 
enormous height above the level of the sea. 
As we approached, a sharp, jagged crag 
bent above us, but detecting malice in the 
attitude, we hurried on, and fortunately 
escaped an enormous boulder, which was 
suddenly detached, and rolled with a tre- 
mendous crash into the sea. 

Next we entered a passage which, as we 



56 My Connaught Cousins, 

proceeded, broadened out into a good-sized 
channel, and we found ourselves in what 
would have been an enormous cavern, if it 
had had another roof than the clear blue 
sky. Here the surge was so great that our 
boat was in a fair way of being upset, when 
one of the men, intending to make her 
secure, jumped airily out on to the rocks, 
missed his footing, and gently disappeared 
beneath the surface of the water ! I began 
seriously to think that our expedition would 
have a tragic ending, for the surge was so 
great, the passage so narrow, that our means 
of assisting him seemed small indeed, but 
the men, more accustomed to such mishaps, 
were of a different opinion. Two of them 
coolly secured the end of a rope, and lightly 
leapt out on to the rocks, leaving the third 
in the boat, who, when the unfortunate 



My Connaught Cotcsins. 57 

victim appeared on the surface, slipped a 
noose under his arm-pits. He was gently 
hauled out on the rocks, very little the 
worse for his bath. 

After this exciting little incident, we 
landed and examined the rocks. They rose 
up to such a height that the brain turned 
dizzy when we tried to decipher the tiny 
specks of birds which were floating above like 
gnats in the sun-ray. As they descended, 
the shrill whistle of the curlew reached our 
ears ; we crouched in a corner, but the 
wary birds were not to be deceived, their 
quick eyes soon saw the danger, and with 
a taunting cry of " curlew," they disappeared 
round a corner of the crag. 

Slowly, very slowly, we made our way 
along the slippery rocks — now going down 
on our knees, and passing some dangerous 



58 My Connaught Cousins, 

bit on all-fours ; now seizing a small pro- 
jecting piece of stone, and holding on for 
very life, while our feet searched for a 
cranny among the slippery seaweed below. 
Thus we passed along, avoiding any mishap, 
until we came to an opening in the rock, 
and entered a low narrow passage, ap- 
parently leading into the interior of the 
island. Here the air was damp and chilly, 
our voices had a hollow, unearthly sound, 
and it was so dark that we had to grope 
our way. As we proceeded, the passage 
broadened, and faint streaks of light ap- 
peared ; next we heard the deep - drawn 
breathing of the waters, then we were 
gladdened with a burst of broad sunlight, 
and we found ourselves approaching an 
enormous cavern. 

The channel here was considerably broader 



My Connatight Cousi7is, 59 

than the last, and the cave was open at 
either end. About midway in the channel 
was a good - sized weedy reef, which was 
covered with great black seals. Our ap- 
proach caused a general panic ; they all 
rushed down to the water, and swam about 
like dogs. We gazed around, and examined 
every creek and corner within our reach, 
but we could discover nothing, — all was 
quiet and peaceful as a tomb ; our voices 
echoed through the vault, and our footsteps 
gave forth a hollow, unearthly sound. Not 
a living thing was visible until we fired a 
shot, and then, as if by magic, the whole 
air was filled with birds ; suddenly they 
all disappeared, leaving the place as quiet 
and peaceful as before. 

Having seen all there was to be seen, 
we retraced our steps through the dark 



6o My Connaught Cousins. 

passage, mounted a flight of stairs which 
had been roughly hewn out of the solid 
rock ; and, after half-an-hour, which seemed 
an eternity, re-emerged into the sunlight, 
and found ourselves standing upon the 
fruitful fields of Cruna. It was a good- 
sized island, about ten miles across, in- 
habited by several hundred people, and 
governed completely by the master. Some 
of the peasants who dwelt thereon had never 
even seen the mainland, but were content 
to toil all day on the land, to dwell in the 
cabins which were dotted like beaver-huts 
about the hills, and to rest at last in the 
graveyard by the sea. There was no resi- 
dent priest, but Father John occasionally 
sent over his curate to preach the Word 
and administer consolation to the sick. 
There was no resident doctor, but occa- 



My Connatight Cousins. 6r 

sionally a travelling medicine-man came, en 
passant, to the island, and rested for a month 
or so among the sick. All this information 
I got from Nora, who proceeded to inform 
me that, during the time of old ]Mr Dunroon, 
things upon Cruna Island had been in a 
very bad way indeed ; that Mr Dunroon 
himself — an ignorant, superstitious man — 
had encouraged belief in witchcraft, the evil 
eye, etc., until the people had actually burnt 
down the house of an old woman, whom they 
believed to be a witch, and had finally driven 
her forth to perish in the sea. 

" But things are much better under the 
new master," added Nora. " He is stern 
in his endeavour to put down superstition 
of any kind ; he has built a capital school, 
and I believe he will soon have a resident 
priest. Look, there is the master's house ; 



62 My Connaught Cousins. 

I think we had better go straight there, 
hadn't we, Kate ? " 

Kate assented, so we set off — I carrying 
Oona's cloak and book, and keeping as close 
as possible to Oona's side. 

The building which we approached was a 
plain-looking structure, built of stone, and 
whitewashed. It was surrounded by a fine 
garden, however, and backed by capacious 
stables, dog-kennels, etc. 

From any sign of life there was about, 
the house might have been deserted ; but 
Kathleen's knock brought to the door a very 
neat little maid, who showed us at once into 
the drawing-room. The little maid was 
evidently no stranger to the girls, for they 
all said something to her in Irish, which 
made her blush and smile ; and then my 
uncle added those kind words of his, which 



My Connaught Cousins, 63 

were always ready, and which made him so 
popular in Connaught. 

We entered the drawing-room, and were 
all looking about for comfortable seats, when 
the door opened, and the mistress of the 
house appeared. She was a tall, graceful 
woman, with a face which, in its youth, 
could not have been unlike Oona's. Though 
she had passed her fortieth year, she still 
retained a good deal of her youthful beauty. 
Her hair was golden, her eyes were blue — 
like, yet unlike, Oona's ; for at times there 
came into them a look which seemed to 
transform them, and which I could not 
understand. I glanced from her to Oona 
— from Oona back again to her ; the two 
faces were similar, but at last I understood 
the difference, — the one had faced pleasure, 
the other only pain. Yes, I had before me 



64 ^y Connaught Cousins, 

just such a picture as my darling little Oona 
would present after the experience of heart- 
rending sorrow. 

Mrs Dunroon was delighted to see us, and 
she said so in the most winning voice that 
had ever fallen upon my ear, — " Though she 
feared," she said, " it was but a dull house 
for the girls to come to. All her children 
had returned to their schools in Dublin only 
a fortnight before ; they had made the house 
lively while they were at home, but since 
their departure, she and George had fallen 
into their old routine." 

Then she was introduced to me, and I 
began to make some apology for intruding 
uninvited ; but she silenced me at once. 

"It is you who confer the favour," she 
said, smiling, and letting her fine eyes rest 
for a moment upon my face. " If you will 



My Connaught Cousins. 65 

only shoot over the land and fish the rivers, 
we shall be delighted, for my husband's guns 
are growing rusty for want of use, and the 
dogs are getting so fat they soon won't be 
able to walk." 

Then she asked us to excuse her ; she was 
certain we must be famishing ; the moment 
she heard of our arrival she had ordered 
lunch to be served, but she thought our 
chance of getting it quickly would be 
doubled if she went to the kitchen and 
helped the maids. 

The moment she was gone, Nora asked 
me what I thought of her ? 

" She is about the most charming wo- 
man I ever met. In her youth she must 
have been the imao^e of Oona." 

To my amazement my uncle went over 
to Oona, who was sitting on the music 

VOL. II. E 



66 My Connaught Cotisins. 

stool, put his arms round her, and lifted 
her sweet face to his. 

"Like my Oona?" he said, and his 
voice actually trembled. ** Ah ! the good 
God forbid that my little girl should ever 
have to face such scenes." 

I suspected before that there must 
have been some strange episode in our 
hostess's past ; now I was sure of it. I 
was about to ask some questions about it, 
when Nora addressed me again. 

" I am glad you like her," she said, 
" for we all adore her ; and as for papa, 
he thinks there is no such woman in 
the world. She is very beautiful, is 
she not ? and she is as good as she is 
beautiful." 

" Does she live here all the year 
round ? " 



My Co7inaught Cousins, 67 

*' Almost. She and her husband come 
occasionally to Ballyshanrany, and every 
winter, I believe, they go to Dublin for 
a while, but that is all. You see Mrs 
Dunroon loves Cruna, though indeed she 
has little cause ; and most of her time is 
spent in trying to stamp out superstition, 
and improve the people." 

Here our conversation was interrupted 
by the re-appearance of our hostess. 
" Luncheon will be ready in five 
minutes," she said, and she had us all 
shown to our rooms. 

It was a capital lunch, capitally served, 
and we did full justice to it. After it 
was over, we began to discuss our ar- 
rangements. " It was growing late," my 
uncle said, and if we wanted to reach 
Storport at a decent hour, we must 



68 My Connaught Cousins, 

soon think of returning. But Mrs Dun- 
roon was horrified. Eeturn to Storport 
that night, she said, it was not to be 
thought of. We must stay a few days, 
and have some sport ; besides, we couldn't 
think of leaving without having seen 
her husband, who had ridden over to a 
distant part of the island to transact some 
important business, and would not return 
till six. After a very feeble resistance, 
we yielded, in reality by no means dis- 
pleased. I, in truth, was very glad to 
remain, for I was already very much in- 
terested in Cruna Island. I felt I should 
like to see more of it, and to know more 
of its people. 

Lunch fairly over, our hostess set her- 
self the task of providing us all with 
amusement for the afternoon. Kathleen 



My Connatight Cousins. 69 

preferred to remain in the house, my 
uncle and Nora were provided with a 
couple of fishing rods, while I accepted 
my hostess's invitation to mount one of her 
husband's horses, and take a ride round 
the island. Then Mrs Dunroon turned to 
Oona, — 

" Would you like a ride, too, dear ? " 
she said ; " if so, I think I can make my 
habit fit you." And Oona assented. 

We set off together, and had a long 
ride, but I am afraid I saw very little of 
the island. The ride, however, seemed to 
have done us good, for we were both in 
excellent spirits when we got back again. 
During dinner we were beset with ques- 
tions about what we had seen. My uncle 
had been trying some of Aileen's flies, 
and was in great spirits at having killed 



yo My Connaught Cousins. 

a couple of salmon. Both Oona and I 
had to confess, rather shamefacedly, that 
we had neither been far, nor seen 
much. 

" I am afraid," I said, speaking to my 
hostess, but glancing occasionally at the 
radiant face of my cousin, " that Oona 
would never make her living as a guide. 
Now, on a place like Cruna Island, there 
must be oceans of spots where the fairies 
dance and the witches hide. Oona has 
positively not pointed out one." 

I glanced at my hostess, and stared in 
wonder at the look of mingled pain and 
terror which crossed her face. She tried 
to conquer it. I saw she fought bravely, 
but I saw she could not answer, and her 
eyes filled with tears. Then, suddenly, I 
remembered the allusions which had been 



Afy Connaught Cousins. 71 

made to some great sorrow in the lady's 
past life, and I felt that my few light 
words had touched the chord. 

There was a moment of intense silence, 
till Kathleen, always ready in time of 
need, began to tell about Shawn's doings 
that day, and the conversation soon became 
oreneral. But I could not fororet the in- 

o o 

cident, it haunted me all the evening, and 
was still unpleasantly vivid in my mind 
when I rose to go to bed. Having reached 
my room, I found Nora seated in an 
easy-chair, looking very important, and 
very mysterious indeed. 




CHAPTEK IV. 




OUSIN JACK," she said, when 

in obedience to her command 

I had carefully closed the 

door, ''you are fond of reading in bed, 

aren't you ? " 

" Very." 

" IVe got a story for you to-night, 
which I want you to read — will you ? " 
" Of course I will." 

" Eead it all to-night — every word of 
it — for to-morrow I mean to show you 



My Connatight Cousins. 73 

where the scene of the story is laid, and 
introduce you to two of the characters. 
You would like that?" 

I replied in the affirmative ; at the 
same time I expressed my amazement 
that the story, if a true one, should have 
found its way into print, for by this 
time Nora had produced a modest - look- 
ing volume, which I perceived at once to 
be a collection of tales, had opened it, 
and pointed out the first as the one 
which she recommended to my special 
care. Thereupon Xora proceeded to ex- 
plain. 

" It is about two years ago this 
autumn," she said, " since a very bene- 
volent-looking old gentleman, with a long 
white beard, grey hair, and spectacles, 
came down to look at Mr O'Xeil's 



74 My Connaught Cousins, 

shooting-lodge, that white tumble- down 
looking house on the face of the hill, 
you know, which he lets whenever he 
can, with some of the land thereabouts. 
He wasn't much taken with the house, 
but he called at the Lodge to ask papa 
about the shooting, and we invited him 
to stay to lunch. Well, it turned out 
a very wet afternoon, so, as he seemed 
in no great hurry to go, Kate offered him 
a bed, and said he had better dismiss 
the car which had brought him, and 
take ours as far as Glenderig, on the 
following day. Well, it ended in his 
staying with us for a fortnight. While 
he was there, I told him this story. 
About six months after he was gone I 
received one morning this little volume, 
and on opening it was amazed to find 



My Connatcght Cousins. 75 

my name on the fly - leaf. Look, here it 



is." 



She turned to the fly-leaf of the book, 
and I beheld, written in a neat little 
hand, — 

"To Miss Nora Kenmare — part author 
of story number one — in memory of my 
first visit to Connaught." 

Nora had certainly succeeded in in- 
teresting me. When I found myself 
alone, I did not attempt to go to bed, 
but having settled myself, I opened the 
volume and began to read 

"The Maid of Cruxa Island." 

The very title caught me. I turned up 
my lamp, and settled myself down com- 
fortably to read the tale. 



76 My Connaught Cousins, 

" Deep darkness hung like a cloud above 
Cruna Island ; the sky was dark, unrelieved 
by star or moon ; and on every hand 
stretched the sea — jet black and glassily 
calm — but on the shingly beach of the 
island the waves broke into snow - white 
surf, on which a ray of light played 
faintly, now gleaming in sparkles upon 
the thin line of foam, now shining like 
a steady star on the jet - black waters 
beyond. 

The light issued from the window of 
a hut which stood upon the beach, in 
the shadow of an overhanging crag ; the 
oval roof of this strangely-situated dwell- 
ing was formed of the upturned hull of 
an old fishing-smack, while the walls were 
built of loose pieces of rock, and stones 
which had evidently been collected from 



My Connaught Cousins. yj 

the shore. Altogether the place was one 
in which some w^orn-out old sea-rover 
might have wished to spend his declin- 
ing years. About it, in time of storm, 
the salt sea spray was wafted ; around 
it the sea - weed clung ; on the rocks 
beside it the cormorants swarmed, and 
the sea - gulls screamed ; everywhere 
about the weed-covered crags, the sea- 
piets flew ; while far away to sea 
the gannet shot like a stone upon his 
prey. The light issuing from the 
hut, and flashed upon the edge of the 
sea, revealed also to the eye a small 
rudely-built coble, which was drawn up 
the beach, and securely fastened to a 
huge boulder lying beside the hut ; close 
to this a thick rope was coiled upon 
the ground. The room, which the half- 



yS My Connaught Cousins, 

open door revealed, was of moderate 
dimensions, and in every way harmonised 
with the external appearance of the hut. 
The floor was paved with small round 
stones, which were carefully placed and 
brightly polished ; dried fish, coils of 
rope, and fishing-lines hung from rafters 
which were black as ebony. In one corner 
stood a pair of rudely-made oars, and in 
another, neatly folded, was a red canvas 
lug-sail. At the upper end of the floor 
a small square space was left unpaved, 
and on this slowly smouldered away two 
or three clods of peat. The occupants of 
the room were an old woman and a young 
girl. The girl sat in the window recess, 
with her head bent down over an old, 
stained Irish Bible, which lay open on her 
knees, and from which she was reading. 



My Connatight Cousins. 79 

The old woman had placed herself on a 
small stool, close beside the smouldering 
fire. Her face was of that ashen-grey 
hue which is generally found only on 
the faces of the dead. Her hair, which 
was white as snow, was carefully smoothed 
over her forehead. Her eyes were sunken 
and around them was a jet-black ring, 
which gave to her face a sinister look. 
Her brows were contracted into a habitual 
frown ; nose long and pinched ; lips thin 
and slightly compressed. Her figure was 
angular and bony. She wore a plain 
black cap, carefully tied beneath her chin, 
and a black gown, which was raised up 
in the front, and pinned around her waist, 
falling at the back like a long peaky tail. 
Although she was seventy years of age, 
her back was straight as an arrow, as 



8o My Connaught Cousins. 

she sat upon her stool, with her bony 
hands crossed upon her knee, and her 
pale lack-lustre eyes gazing sternly upon 
a tombstone which rested against the op- 
posite wall, and on which was marked 
two words — her own name — 

AiLEEN O'Connor. 

The expression of the face was one of 
terrible resolve and quiet determination. 
The thin compressed lips, long hooked 
nose,, and knitted brow, were formidable 
characteristics, especially when coupled, 
as in this case, with a most repelling and 
disdainful manner. 

Small blame, therefore, could be attached 
to the inhabitants of Cruna Island, when 
they attributed to Aileen O'Connor all 
the power and subtleties of witchcraft ; 



My Co7inaicght Cotcsins. 8i 

when they believed that her very glance 
could deal death, or worse, to man or 
beast ; and that she was in the possession 
of numerous diabolic arts, by which she 
had the power of dealing misfortune or 
prosperity to any of her numerous neigh- 
bours. 

Scarce a person on the island would have 
dared gainsay her in word or deed, and 
it was averred by the peasantry that the 
master himself would as soon have ordered 
his coffin as have issued the command that 
Aileen O'Connor was forthwith to quit his 
territory. 

Fourteen years before, when the inhabi- 
tants of Cruna Island had one morning 
found her, with a little child, inhabiting the 
deserted, half-ruined cabin on the beach, 
they had looked at each other in some 

VOL. II. F 



82 My Connaught Cousins. 

suspicion and intense surprise. Where 
had the strangers come from, and by what 
means had they contrived to reach the 
shore ? 

Cruna Island was by no means accessible, 
and on the morning of the strangers' ar- 
rival there were no strange smacks to 
be seen in the bay. The whole proceed- 
ing savoured so strongly of magic that 
the cloudy brains of the islanders were 
fairly puzzled. Quickly they pressed 
around the extraordinary apparitions, and 
as quickly were they repelled, for Aileen 
O'Connor met their advances with a cold 
and haughty repulse. She answered no 
questions, volunteered no explanations, 
and finally the baffled inquisitors perforce 
retired from the contest, as much en- 
lightened on the subject as they had been 



My Connaught Cousins, 83 

on the first day of the strangers' arrival. 
Such proceedings as these were not suf- 
fered to pass unnoted even on the lonely 
shores of Cruna Island. No sooner did 
the master become acquainted with the 
facts of the case than he hurried to 
the scene of action, fully prepared to 
excommunicate the pair who had dared 
to settle thus unceremoniously upon his 
dominions. On reaching the beach he had 
found his people congregated together 
about the hut. Quickly passing through 
their midst, he had entered the cabin, 
closing the door behind him. There he 
had remained for a time, while without 
gathered a little crowd, who fully expected 
that before half-an-hour had elapsed the 
strangers would be sailing away for other 
shores. Great was their amazement, how- 



$4 My Connaught Cousins, 

ever, when at length the master issued 
from the cabin, and informed them, in a 
trembling voice, that the strangers were 
Crunans. 

None knew what had wrought this 
change in the mind of the man, none 
thought of connecting him in the remotest 
way with the ghastly-looking woman ; still 
less could they have conceived the whole 
facts of the case. 

On entering the cabin, the master of 
Cruna stood face to face with Aileen 
O'Connor, a girl whom, in his youth, he 
had wronged and deceived, and who, 
smarting under the sting of neglect, and 
after heartbroken appeals to the man whom 
she had loved, had emigrated from her 
home, vowing upon him some terrible 
revenge. Never since then had her lover 



My Connaught Cousins. 85 

beheld her, scarcely had the thought of 
her crossed his mind ; but when the girl, 
transformed into an elderly woman, had so 
suddenly and unexpectedly appeared before 
him, his soul was shaken, and he lacked the 
heart to drive her forth again. 

The mystery surrounding the phantom 
woman deepened year by year ; her retired 
mode of living giving rise to numerous 
conjectures, which in time ripened into 
certainties. Scarcely a soul had ever been 
known to cross her threshold, yet her 
manner of living soon became known, and 
when the islanders were assured of the 
fact that she spent her time sitting beside 
the fire, calmly gazing upon the stone 
which was to mark her own last resting- 
place, they cast upon each other most 
gloomy, significant looks. In their per- 



86 My Connaught Cousins, 

plexity they turned to the child for in- 
formation, yet here their curiosity met 
with small gratification. 

On her arrival at the island, Nina 
O'Connor had scarcely attained her sixth 
year, and the fund of information with 
which she attempted to gratify the eager 
inquiries of the islanders was of the most 
unsatisfactory kind. 

She only knew that she had no friends 
but her Aunt Aileen, as she called her, who 
for some mystic reason had migrated from 
the south to end her days on the lonely 
Irish coast. Nina was a pretty child, with 
soft brown eyes and hair. About her there 
was some charm, some invisible attraction, 
which would have gone far to soften the 
natures of much more obdurate-hearted 
people than those at Cruna Island. About 



My Connaught Cousins. Sj 

these she cast a glamour which quickly 
secured for her the good graces of the whole 
community, and, in a measure, those of the 
master himself. 

This latter phenomenon might be easily 
accounted for ; the landlord, although hard 
and pitiless, had been somewhat softened 
since the death of his wife and only child, 
who were lost at sea some six years before 
the arrival of the strangers on the island. 
The catastrophe had wrought in him a 
wondrous change, since, in a measure, he 
blamed himself as the main cause of the 
calamity. In point of fact, the blame, if 
blame there was, could be attached to no 
one in particular, unless, indeed, to the 
victim herself, who had sacrificed her own 
life, as well as that of their child, mainly 
through allegiance to her husband. 



88 My Connattght Cousins. 

Ever careful over his wife's safety, he 
had sent her to Dublin to pass over an 
event which might, he feared, have serious 
results if it happened in the lonely wilds 
of Cruna. In Dublin his first child had 
been born to him, but scarcely had his 
wife recovered her strength when she got 
news that her husband was seriously ill. 
Struggling thus between wifely and ma- 
ternal love, she had ultimately sailed from 
the city in mid-winter to attend the sick- 
bed of her husband. That husband she 
had never again beheld. The vessel which 
was bringing her home, being overtaken 
by a terrible storm, had foundered within 
sight of the island, and every soul on board 
had perished. From this blow the man 
had never thoroughly recovered, and the 
loss of his child especially had gone far 



My Connaicght Cousins. 89 

towards softening his heart to children 
generally. 

When little Nina O'Connor first began 
to run about the island, it happened, in the 
natural course of things, that the master 
was constantly encountering her. At first 
his manner towards her was the same as 
that towards any other children of the 
village ; but gradually her pretty face and 
winsome ways drew his attention towards 
her, and on observing her more closely he 
began to notice that she was just the age 
that his own child would have been, had she 
been spared him. Henceforth his interest 
in her increased. Whenever he met her he 
invariably paused to speak to her, or pat 
her soft cheek ; occasionally he presented 
to her some pence or rude toy ; and once, 
when he saw her near his house, he actually 



90 My Connaught Coiisins. 

took her in, and allowed her to pass an 
hour or so in the gloomy dwelling, en- 
tertained by his little nephew and heir- 
apparent, George Dunroon, while he him- 
self watched the two in grim pleasure. 

The young master, who was some years 
older than Nina, was a kindly lad, though 
rather wild and irreclaimable in his con- 
duct. He had spent some years of his life 
on Cruna Island ; for, on the death of his 
aunt, he had at once been sent by his 
mother, doubtless with a sly eye to the 
future, to aiford consolation to the old 
man. In truth, the free, unrestrained 
atmosphere of Cruna suited the lad far 
better than the murky air of the southern 
city where he had been born. Having a 
fancy for daring adventure, he was con- 
stantly out exploring the island, or scour- 



My Co7inaught Cousins. 91 

ing the crags, over which he hung at 
times suspended, eagerly searching for the 
nests of the eagle or rock-raven. Xina 
soon became a partner in his wanderings, 
under his auspices becoming acquainted 
with every corner of the island, or at 
times accompanying him to his uncle's 
house, where the children were like gleams 
of sunshine brightening up the gloomy 
place. No sooner did the state of 
affairs reach the ears of Aileen O'Connor 
than she sternly forbade the child ever 
again to approach the master's house or 
to seek the company of his nephew ; and 
more than once, when George came to the 
hut to seek for Xina, the old woman 
harshly drove him from the door. After 
this the children had never again met 
openly ; but, unable to perceive the justice 



92 My Connatight Cousins, 

of such unwonted tyranny, they continued 
to meet in secret, until the boy was sent 
back to his friends in the south, and Nina 
was left alone. 

As years passed on, and Nina grew to 
womanhood, she saw that a cloud was 
gradually darkening her horizon. The is- 
landers grew less kindly in their manner 
towards her ; soon they began to shun 
her altogether ; and once or twice she even 
noticed the master shrink from her very 
glance. These signs of hostility were only 
preparatory to the assertion, which gradu- 
ally became whispered about, that the girl 
was affected with the " evil eye," a curse 
which she had doubtless inherited from her 
diabolic relative. Soon, indeed, it was 
most emphatically averred that one glance 
from her eye had actually struck the widow 



My Connaught Cousins. 93 

Monnaghan's black cow as dead as a stone, 
and that little Shamus Beg, the fiddler's 
son, had never been able to leave his chair 
since Nina's looks had last rested upon his 
face. Finding it utterly hopeless to correct 
the reports which w^ere thus circulated con- 
cerning her, Nina was fain at IcDgth to 
shrug her shoulders and bow her head, in 
silent concession. Being thus debarred 
from all social intercourse with her neigh- 
hours, utterly companionless, save for the 
gloomy society of her aunt, the girl thence- 
forth led the life of a recluse. She felt 
that her presence created disgust, malignant 
suspicion, and sometimes hatred ; and she 
knew that, were it not for the evil attri- 
butes with which she and her aunt were 
supposed to be endowed, some consummate 
evil would surely be meditated against them. 



94 ^y Comtatight Cousins. 

In this moral atmosphere she dwelt. 
Her days were spent in lonely wander- 
ings on the island ; her evenings in reading 
aloud to her aunt from the old, stained 
Irish Bible, or sitting beside the cabin door 
listening to the surging sea. At the open- 
ing of our story Nina had scarcely attained 
her twentieth year. Eather small of stat- 
ure, possessed of a lithe, graceful figure, soft 
round cheeks, brown eyes, and a mass of long, 
nut-brown hair, she was a strong contrast 
to her gaunt, ghastly-looking relative. 

The light of a lamp flashed down upon 
her, brilliantly illuminating her face and 
figure. She wore an ordinary peasant's 
dress ; her hair was twisted and neatly 
coiled round her head ; the light in her eyes 
was keen and penetrating, and a thoughtful, 
preoccupied expression was on her face. 



My Connatight Cousins. 95 

As she read, her voice rangr througrh the 
room, not in its usual quiet measured 
cadencies, but in fluctuating uncertainty ; 
and now and again an access of tremor 
was perceptible. She seemed restless and 
uneasy. Her foot was tapping on the 
floor, her fingers pulling at the edges 
of her book ; and at times peepinor 
cautiously through the window, she 
vainly endeavoured to penetrate into 
the gloom. 

The old woman sat motionless as a statue, 
listening in grim satisfaction to the words 
which fell upon her ear, while her eyes still 
rested upon the tombstone. The air was 
oppressively still, not a sound was to be 
heard but the weary washing of the sea. 
A loud and prolonged shout of many voices 
from a distance soon caused Nina to start 



96 My Connaught Cousins. 

violently and leap to her feet, casting the 
book roughly upon the floor. 

"What is the matter, Nina?" asked 
Aileen O'Connor, half-turning towards the 
girl. 

" Sure, 'tis the young master, I think, 
Aunt Aileen, that has just arrived." 

Eunning to the door, Nina gazed anxi- 
ously forth. On the clifis, some distance 
from the cabin, a crowd of people was 
dimly perceptible, and lights moved, while 
from the sea a ray of light, evidently pro- 
ceeding from the mast of a ship, shone 
brightly as a star. At sight of this, Nina's 
heart gave a great leap, and her lip quiv- 
ered. Leaning against the door-post, she 
gazed on. Beside the fire the old woman 
sat, gaunt as a shadow. As the shout 
struck upon her ear, the expression of her 



My Connatight Cousins. 97 

face grew sterner and more determined 
still, while her bloodless lips muttered 
slowly, — 

** The sins of the fathers shall be visited 
upon the children, unto the third and fourth 
generation. With what measure ye mete, 
it shall be measured to you again." 




VOL. II. 



CHAPTER V. 




HE master of Cruna Island was 
a prosperous man in the true 
sense of the word. The house 
which he occupied — a small edifice of stone, 
far superior in appearance to any of those 
surrounding it — was placed on a height in 
the middle of the island, and while stand- 
ing at the windows of any one of the rooms, 
he could gaze upon well-fed flocks and 
herds, and several miles of well-tilled land, 
and truthfully repeat the rhyme, — 



My Connaught Cousins. 99 

*' I am monarch of all I survey, 

My right there is none to dispute ; 
From the centre all round to the sea, 
I am lord of the fowl and the brute." 



Unlike the barren bogs and mountains 
which characterise the scenery of Conne- 
mara, the land of Cruna Island was toler- 
ably fruitful, it having been carefully cul- 
tivated by its successive proprietors. Each 
year its nominal value had increased, and 
when it became the property of the present 
owner, it might be said to represent a very 
tolerable income. Every available acre of 
land had been manipulated for cultivation. 
Stretches of bright, green pasture and 
fields of yellow corn were everywhere re- 
vealed to the eye, and above, far up, near 
the clouds, where the furrows of the plough- 
share had not penetrated, were barren heights 



lOO My Connaught Cousins. 

and craggy mountain - peaks, where the 
fox and the mountain goat dwelt un- 
molested, where the grouse bred, and 
the blue hares abounded. Here and there 
on the hillsides, or lying half-hidden in a 
waving sea of ripe corn, were little fishing- 
hamlets, the picturesque dwellings of the 
population, a quaint people, in whose minds 
still reigned paramount many of those wild 
legendary superstitions which had been 
believed in by their ancestors. No breeze 
from the south ever penetrated to those 
hills ; seldom was a stranger known to 
tread those lonely shores. Century after 
century had passed away, races of men 
sprung up and died, the outer world pro- 
gressed and changed, but still the inhabi- 
tants of Cruna Island remained as little 
enlightened in their ideas as had been 



My Cofuiaught Cousins. loi 

their progenitors before them. In this 
respect, it must be avowed, the master 
himself seemed little in advance of his 
people. He was a man who possessed 
little more education than his tenants, who 
was, to some extent, guided by their feeble 
lights, and whose head was equally as full 
of invincible superstitions. 

One morning, some two days after the 
young master's arrival at Cruna, the lad 
lay full length on a plot of grass before 
his uncle's door, his head resting upon his 
crossed hands as he gazed silently up at 
the cloudless sky. Beside him, a greyhound 
was stretched basking in the sunshine as 
lazily as his master, while a few paces off 
sat the old man himself on a rude wooden 
bench w^hich was erected beside his door. 
He sat silent ; his broad, brown hands rest- 



I02 My Connaught Cousins. 

ing on the top of a stick which stood 
between his knees, and his dull eyes fixed 
upon his nephew's indolent face. At length 
he spoke. 

" How long do you intend to stay, 
George ? " he asked, and without raising 
his head or changing his position the young 
man replied, — 

"Till autumn only, then I must go to 
Dublin for a month." 

" And will you not grow tired before 
then ? " 

" Tired ? not I. Cruna gives one a fore- 
taste of Paradise in weather like this." 
Then rising to his feet he asked suddenly, — 

"By the way, uncle, what has become 
of Nina O'Connor, my little playmate ; is 
she still here ? " 

Immediately the old man's manner 



My Connaught Cousins. 103 

changed. Glancing keenly into his 
nephew's face, he replied, — 

" The girl is here ; more sorrow to me, 
and to you too, George, if you seek her 
out. Accursed was that day when those 
tw^o women first came to Cruna ! " 

George stared in amazement as he 
asked, — 

" Why, what has she done ? " 

" Ask rather w^hat has she not done ? " 
exclaimed Mr Dunroon. " The girl has the 
* evil eye,' and 'tis only by carefully pleas- 
ing her and her accursed relative that the 
land is fruitful." 

" Nina O'Connor a witch ! ridiculous ! " 
ejaculated George. A residence in the 
south had effectually erased from his mind 
all the innocent conceptions which he had 
imbibed in Cnma, and rendered him seep- 



I04 My Connaught Cousins. 

tical in more matters than that of witch- 
craft. 

'' I tell you it is true, George ! " doggedly 
asserted his uncle. "" 'Twas only with one 
glance of her eye that she withered up the 
corn in that field. The girl is accursed in 
the sight of heaven ; never come near her 
while you are in Cruna, and never again 
mention her name to me ! " 

The latter part of the behest was obeyed 
to the letter. Being perfectly acquainted 
with his uncle's obdurate, narrow-minded, 
superstitious nature, the lad knew full well 
that any attempt on his part to shake the 
ideas which he had conceived about Nina 
would be utterly futile, and perhaps would 
only serve to make his uncle's conviction 
more bitter. 

Accordingly, he held his peace. His 



My Connatight Co2isuis. 105 

mind, however, unlike his lips, was bound 
by no restrictions. During that day, his 
thoughts constantly turned to Xina, and, 
contrary to the sage advice of his relative, 
he determined to seek her out on the first 
opportunity. Far from shaking his deter- 
mination, Nina's reputed skill in the " black 
arts " only served to make it more sure, 
and inspire in him a livelier interest in the 
girl. 

While he had been absent from the 
island, Xina had been little in his mind ; 
other impressions had crowded upon him, 
entirely sweeping her from his thoughts ; 
now that he was back again, the remem- 
brance of his childhood's days was recalled 
to him, and the picture of Xina O'Connor 
was inseparably mixed up in all his re- 
flections. Eight years had passed since he 



io6 My Connaught Cousins. 

had seen her, and George fell to picturing 
the changes which those eight years might 
have wrought in her, and he wondered if 
he would find in the woman the same 
affectionate heart and gentle nature he had 
known and loved in the child. In such 
reflections George was not alone. Ever 
since Nina had heard of his projected 
return to the island, she on her part had 
been conjuring up pictures of her boyish 
playmate, and wondering what he would 
think when he found her thus friendless, 
shunned and despised as it were by every 
human soul. 

Despite the gentleness with which the 
girl had submitted to the tyranny which 
had been exercised over her, there was in 
her nature a portion of that quiet resolve 
which was so marked a characteristic of her 



My Connatight Cousins. 107 

aunt. The assertions concerning her, she had 
treated with the utmost scorn, coming as 
they did from people whom she had learned 
to despise ; but now, she thought, the case 
would be different ; and, on that night 
when she had stood against the door-post, 
watching the flickering light in the bay, 
she had involuntarily asked herself the 
question, — 

" Will George treat me as these people 
do?" 

Her thoughts of him were filled with 
pleasant associations. She knew that in his 
youth he had possessed a kindly disposition, 
and she thought that, after eight years 
residence in the south, he must return a 
gentleman, with expanded mind and en- 
lightened ideas, a being in every way fit 
to rule in Cruna. Although she herself 



io8 My Connaught Cousins, 

had been brought up within the lonely 
limits of the island, with no wider experi- 
ence of humanity than the superstitious 
islanders, Nina's mind was of a different 
mould. Had she been reared solely under 
their auspices, the girl might necessarily have 
inherited much of their legendary lore, but 
Aileen O'Connor, who had dwelt in more 
enlightened climes, regarded the islanders, 
including the master himself, as a set of 
creatures whose only possible claim to 
humanity was that of form, certainly not of 
intellect. Secretly hating and despising 
every one, and more especially the master 
himself, she had endeavoured to bring Nina 
round to her own lights. She had suc- 
ceeded so far as to brighten up the girl's in- 
telligence, and give her more enlightened 
ideas of human nature, and the world in 



My Connatight Cousins. 109 

general, than she could possibly have ob- 
tained had she been cast solely upon her 
own resources. 

For George's return Nina had looked as 
for that of an old friend. Durino; the eio:ht 
years of their separation, she, having no 
other excitement in her mind, had been 
constantly thinking of, nay, almost looking 
forward to the time when the boy should 
come back and brighten up her dreary 
existence. 

No sooner, therefore, did he return to 
the island, than she lengthened her daily 
walks in the hope of meeting him. She 
knew that, even were he so inclined, he 
would not dare to seek her at her home, 
for, ever since that day, now so many years 
ago, when, with wild imprecations, the old 
woman had driven him from her door, 



1 1 o My Connaugkt Cousins. 

he had never once attempted to cross 
the threshold. So Nina looked for him 
abroad, but for many days her search was 
vain. 

One evening, however, after a long stroll, 
she sat down to rest upon the grass-covered 
crags, when she was suddenly startled by 
the report of a gun. She rose and looked 
around her, but she could see no one. 
Presently, however, a hare came bounding 
along, and, when a few yards from her feet, 
fell dead. Trembling, she glanced around 
again. Almost immediately the sportsman 
became visible. First came a dog, a black 
retriever, which, with nose to the ground, 
was closely following the track of the hare ; 
at no very great distance behind the dog 
hurried the slight figure of a young man, 
clad in a grey shooting-suit, carrying a gun 



My Connaught Cousins. 1 1 1 

on his shoulder, and closely followed by a 
coarse-looking fisher-boy. 

One by one the party appeared on the 
top of a hill which rose a distance from 
the crags, cutting ofi* the flat sweep of land. 
Nina looked intently at the sportsman, 
while he, with his eyes fixed on the dog, 
came w^alking direct towards her. 

At first the face seemed perfectly un- 
known to her, but, as the man drew nearer, 
and she got a better view of the features, 
she gradually seemed to recognise in him 
her old friend, George Dunroon. The re- 
cognition became complete when at length 
the young man called to his dog in a voice 
that, despite the changes of years, she 
knew well. 

Breathless with his run, George paused 
within a few yards of where the girl stood, 



1 1 2 My Connaught Coustns. 

and stooped to lift the hare which the dog 
had deposited at his feet. On turning to 
cast it to the boy, his eyes suddenly fell 
upon Nina, who stood quietly watching his 
movements. 

He started, paused, the next moment he 
strode forward, holding forth his hand. 

" Nina ! " he exclaimed, as he clasped 
her fingers in his hand, and looked ad- 
miringly into her face. " I declare I hardly 
knew you ; what a pretty girl you have 
grown ! " 

Nina opened her lips to speak, but, in 
glancing over George's shoulder, her eyes 
rested upon a sight which made her burst 
into a fit of somewhat petulant laughter. 

The boy, who had followed the j^oung 
master, horrified at the sudden encounter 
with Nina, had hurriedly seized the hare, 



My Connaitght Coitsins. 1 1 3 

and anxious, no doubt, to put a safe dis- 
tance between himself and the girl, was 
engaged in making a most ignominious 
retreat. 

George was about to call him, when Nina 
put her hand on his arm, — 

" You need not do that," she said, ** he'll 
never turn." 

'* Why not ? " asked George. 

Nina looked full into his face as she said, 
in a half-sarcastic, half-bitter tone, — 

"Because, sir, he wouldn't like to be 
bewitched." 

In a moment George remembered his 
uncle's accusation, which, till then, he had 
almost foro-Qtten. 

" The little imp," he muttered, half- 
angrily ; then turning towards the girl, he 
said, " perhaps we are as well without him, 

VOL. II. H 



114 ^y Connaught Cousins. 

for, now we have met, I don't mean to let 
you escape so easily, Nina. Where are 
you going ? " 

" Just along the shore to my home." 
" Then I will walk with you," answered 
George, instinctively assuming towards the 
girl all his old protecting manner ; " 'tis a 
long time since we had a ramble together, 
isn't it, Nina ? " 

"Indeed it is, sir," replied Nina softly, 
as with eyes fixed on the ground she 
seemed to travel back over the vista of 
those past years. 

" Have you missed me much ? " asked 
George. 

"Yes," answered Nina, in the same soft 
tone. " It has felt lonely." 

" And you are glad to see me back ? " 

" I am, sir," was the simple reply. 



My Connaught Cousins. 1 1 5 

Silence followed. Both now seemed in 
a waking dream, occupied wnth a pleasant 
retrospect, — their eyes on the quiet sea. 

"Come, Nina," George said quietly, as 
he approached her side, "as we go along 
you must tell me all that has happened to 
you since we parted." 

Side by side the two walked along in 
the fading light, and ere long Nina was 
talking to George in as free and unre- 
strained a manner as she had been wont 
to talk in years gone by. Although changed 
so much outwardly, George possessed the 
same frank, kindly nature that had been 
noteworthy in the boy, and ere she had 
been half-an-hour in his company, Nina 
felt no longer abashed and reserved, but 
rather as if she were in the presence of an 
intimate friend. When they parted, she 



1 1 6 My Connaught Cousins. 

gave him her hand as frankly as she had 
been wont to give her lips in the old 
times. 

The intimacy recommenced under such 
favourable auspices, soon ripened into strong 
friendship. Ere long, Mr Dunroon observed 
that George, studiously bent upon visiting 
all his old haunts, seemed to have a parti- 
cular fancy for visiting those haunts alone. 
Whenever his uncle proposed to accompany 
him, the prepared expedition was always 
either abandoned altogether, or the master's 
society shufflingly dispensed with. Alto- 
gether, George's conduct was inexplicable. 
Day after day his hound lay lazily in the 
sunshine, and his guns grew rusted from 
long disuse. The master, who himself had 
been little of a saint, was by no means 
inclined to attribute saintship to others. 



Aly Connaiight Cousins. 1 1 7 

He knew there must be some great cause 
for his nephew's conduct, and he soon dis- 
covered what he had all along suspected, — 
that, despite his sage advice, the boy had 
been "bewitched," and that his pretended 
expeditions over the island resolved them- 
selves into nothing more or less than 
clandestine meeting's with Xina. 

o 

Indeed, either for good or ill, Xina 
quickly exerted a great influence over the 
young master, — which influence his uncle 
naturally attributed to the " evil eye," or 
some other of her aunt's diabolic arts. 
Certain it was, that the friendship between 
the two strengthened each day, and that 
George soon discovered he was never so 
happy as when lounging by Nina's side, 
and looking into her face. 



ii8 My Connaught Cousins, 

"You have been here two months to- 
day, and, do you remember, this is the 
place where we met ? * 

Nina sat on the grass, looking into 
George's face, as he reclined close to the 
edo^e of the craoj. 

" Two months ! " he repeated. " It has 
passed like a dream." 

" You have not wearied, sir ? " 

Instead of replying, George rose, and 
took his seat close by the girl's side. 

" Nina." 

" Yes." 

" Why don't you call me George as you 
used to do ? " 

Nina looked into his face as she said 
slowly, "Because it is different now, 



sir." 



" Why should it be different, Nina ? We 



My Connatight Cousins. 1 1 9 

are the same — you and I, — what difference 
should a few years make ? " 

Nina rose hastily, and stood before him. 

" Indeed, you yourself should know what 
difference it makes. "We are not children 
now. You are the young master, and I — " 

" And you, Xina, are what I prize more 
than an}^hing else in the world," said 
George, as, standing before her, he took 
her hands. " Tell me, child, do you care 
for me ? Do you think of me sometimes, 
as I think of you ? — do you — " 

He paused. Xina's hand trembled. She 
looked into her companion's eyes and re- 
mained silent. 

" Nina," continued George, passionately, 
as he clasped her round the waist ; " speak, 
darling, — do not turn from me. Answer 
me now, do you love me, Nina ? " 



I20 My Coiinaught Cousins. 

" Love you ? yes, indeed 1 do ! " said 
Nina softly. " But there is little wonder 
in that. You are the dearest friend — the 
only friend — I have in the wide world ; 
but I am different to you, and 'tis strange, 
I think, that you should care for me." 

" Nina, do you love me ? " 

" Indeed, yes," Nina replied ; and, look- 
ing questioningly into his face, she asked, 
" Will you always love me ? " 

" Always, darling ! " 

For a time she was silent, with her eyes 
cast on the sea ; then she said, half-smiling, 
half-sad, " Although I am a witch ? " 

George laughed. 

" There is the pledge ! " he said, as he 
kissed her on the lips. 



CHAPTEE VI. 




F the suspicion of Nina's unholy 
propensities had hitherto been 
somewhat vague and indistinct, 
it soon became confirmed by one and all 
beyond the shadow of a doubt ; for where 
could be found the person in this matter-of- 
fact world who would still hold to a girl's 
innocence when she had been seen succes- 
sively, by moonlight, in the company of a 
bear — a creature half-cow, half-man, and a 
monster in every lineament, resembling the 
merman of the caves ? Substantial evidence 



122 My Connaught Cousins. 

of these facts was in no way wanting, for 
the inhabitants of Cruna were armed against 
the girl cap-a-pie. There was old Dunbeg, 
for instance, ready and willing to swear on 
the Book that only seven days before, as 
he stood at nightfall on the Moruig Dubh, 
he had, himself unseen, watched the girl 
approach the dreaded Creag-na-Ghoill, and 
from thence, at a signal from her, had 
emerged a shadowy monster, which again 
and again clasped her in its arms. Young 
Gannon, too, strongly averred that, as he 
was one night returning in his skiff from 
the fishing, he had, with his own eyes, seen 
Nina sitting amidst the rocks on the shore, 
half reclining in the arms of a man, whose 
lower extremities bore a striking resem- 
blance to those of a seal. At last the case 
became so strong that the inhabitants of 



My Connaught Cousins. 123 

Cmna Island felt impelled to lay the 
facts before their master, and to beg 
that the witch, and her old familiar, 
should forthwith be exiled from that 
land. 

To the wonder of the islanders, however, 
Mr Dunroon exhibited towards the outcasts 
considerably more leniency than did his 
people. He was a cautious man, whose 
nature was utterly impenetrable to the 
gaze of those benighted islanders. Know- 
ing his nephew's fancy for the girl, he had 
substantial reason for connecting George 
Dunroon with these midnight apparitions. 
To his nephew he said nothing of his sus- 
picions ; he knew that George was head- 
strong, that opposition would be useless ; 
and though he had no idea of allowing 
matters to proceed as they were, he chose 



124 My Connaught Cousins. 

to gain liis end by some surer and more 
secret means. 

A personal interview with Nina he 
dreaded, partly on account of her reputed 
skill in the "black arts," and partly because 
there was something in the girl's face which 
stirred up the latent sorrow in his soul, 
and made him very sad. Was it the evil 
in her eye which caused the man so per- 
sistently to shrink from her glance ? Or 
was it some faint familiar gleam which 
recalled to him the memory of other days ? 
Certain it is, that he had never looked upon 
Nina's face without some stiffled emotion 
rising within his breast, so that day after 
day, month after month, he shunned her, 
dreading to meet her gaze, and cloaking 
his shrinking cowardice under the garb of 
superstition. Whatever he did must be 



My Connattght Cousins. 1 2 5 

done secretly, and in a measure through 
the aid of his people, for in this matter 
the master did not think it expedient to 
declare open hostility. Kot that he feared 
Nina only — the girl herself T^'as quite in 
his power — and were she alone concerned, 
the matter would be comparatively easy ; 
but of Aileen O'Connor he had a genuine 
and deep-set terror. He knew that in his 
youth he had done her manifold wrongs ; 
he remembered how she had left the 
island vowing vengeance against him ; and 
although at the time the matter had im- 
pressed him little, yet since x^ileen had 
returned to the island — an old woman — 
the master had felt considerably more ill 
at ease. 

From the first the old woman's proceed- 
ings had puzzled him ; but what astonished 



126 My Connaught Cousins, 

him more than all was, that in her later 
years she should return and live in the 
very island which had been the scene of 
her former misfortunes. Of her life, he 
knew nothing, but he felt that the old 
woman nursed the wrongs of the girl, and 
that still Aileen O'Connor cherished towards 
him that malignant dislike which he himself 
had formerly been instrumental in arousing. 
Dreading, therefore, to mix himself openly 
in the matter, he determined to feed the 
superstition of his people, and thereby rid 
himself of an incumbrance which had been 
torturing his soul for years. 

Silently and keenly he watched his 
nephew's face, as one who reads a written 
page, and day by day he saw that the girl's 
influence over his soul was deepening. 
Though George had never disclosed to any 



My Connaiight Coicsins. 127 

mortal man his love for Nina, his uncle 
had partly solved the young man's secret, 
and he determined to fully unravel the 
mystery ere he finally formed his own plans. 

Meanwhile George, utterly unmindful of 
the moral eruption which was working in 
his uncle's mind, continued to pass his time 
in careless indolence. Indifferent to all but 
love, he spent his evenings in Nina's com- 
pany, looking into her face, and listening 
to her voice, while the master loomed like 
a satyr in the background, longing, yet 
fearing, to put his veto upon the event 
which he saw approaching. 

" Nina," said George, one evening, as, 
half reclining on a patch of grass which 
covered the top of a cliff, he looked up into 
her face, " have you felt happier, darling, 
since I came ? ' 



128 My Connatight Cousins. 

Nina laughed ; and putting her hand 
into that which was stretched towards her, 
asked. — 

" How many times is it that you have 
asked me that ? " 

"A dozen, I should think." 

" Then why do you ask again ? " 

" Because I like to hear you answer me, 
I like to listen to your loving voice, Nina, 
darling. I could sit here looking into your 
face like this for ever ! " 

" Indeed, you would be weary." 

" Never, child ; — I love you far too well ; 
— you are my life, my second nature ; with 
you by my side, I would brave the world." 

" You would ? " 

'* Yes, I will swear it if you wish, my 
darling ! " 

" But suppose all the world was against 



t 



My Connaught Cousiiis. 129 

me ? It is against me, I am crushed down 
and despised by every one, save you ! " 

" Pshaw ! you know nothing of the world, 
Nina. What does it matter for the opinion 
of people like these ? You will soon be 
beyond their power, for you will be their 
mistress, and then, if you wish it, Nina, we 
will go south, leave all dark thoughts behind 
us, and begin life together, happy in our 
love then, as we are now," — and he put out 
both his arms, and, folding them around 
Nina's w^aist, drew her nearer to his side. 

The dark cliff, on the top of which they 

sat, loomed in the dusky twilight. Beneath 

them the mighty ocean surged heavily, and 

above their heads stretched the heavens, 

radiant with stars. Around them the shades 

of night were slowly gathering, all seemed 

fading away in a soft, vaporous light, no 
VOL. II. I 



130 My Coitnaugkt Cousins. 

object was clearly perceptible ; all was vague, 
and shadowy, like things in a dream. For 
a time the two sat silent, overaw^ed, as it 
were, by the utter stillness of the scene, for 
nothing stirred, no breeze was on either 
land or sea, but ever and anon the owl 
hooted from its nest in the ivied crag, and 
the corncrake cried from the corn which 
grew scarcely a hundred yards behind 
them. Presently Nina stirred. 

" How dark it is getting ! I had forgotten 
about the night coming, and about my aunt 
too, who sits in the cabin. I must go, 
George, I have lingered with you far too 
long!" 

And Nina leapt to her feet, drew more 
tightly around her the small checkered 
handkerchief which covered her neck and 
shoulders, and turned her back upon the 



My Connatight Cousins. 131 

ocean. Suddenly she started, and caught 
her companion's sleeve, as she asked, in a 
suppressed voice, — " What's that ? " 

" What, Nina ? '^ 

" Don't you see that dark figure stealing 
along the edge of the corn-field ? Why, 'tis 
the master himself ! " 

" So it is ! What can he be doing here, 
and at this hour, I wonder ? Come to see 
the fairies dance, or to attend a witches' 
midnight meeting ? I'll speak to him." 

But Nina kept her hand firmly upon his 
arm, and held him back. 

" Not now, Georcre. See ! he does not 
wish you to do so either." 

As she spoke, there was a gentle rustle 
amongst the corn, and the figure of Mr 
Dunroon disappeared amidst it from their 
sight. 



132 My Connaught Cousins, 

George turned to Nina. 

*' Why, how pale you are," he said, 
taking her face between his two hands, 
and holding it up to his. ''Are you afraid 
of my uncle, Nina ? " 

The girl withdrew a few paces into the 
shadow. 

"No, I do not fear him," she replied, 
though her voice trembled, " but a strange 
feeling comes over me when I meet him, 
such a strange feeling that I cannot under- 
stand. I wonder," she added in a lower 
voice, " will he ever do me any harm ? " 

George laughed. 

" What, Nina, you superstitious too ? " 

" No, indeed, I am not ; but I know the 
master dislikes me now more than any one 
of his people ! " 

" Never fear, little one, he will not dare 



My Connaught Cousins. 133 

to harm you. Why should he ? You have 
lived here undisturbed all these years ; why 
should he hurt you now ? " 

"I do not know, George," Nina replied 
softly, "only I would rather that the 
master was away." 

"Tush, Nina, 'tis a foolish fancy that 
you must not cherish ; remember, I am 
here now to protect you from danger, 
should any threaten. Now, darling, let me 
see your face, and tell me you are happy ! " 

Eaising her head, Nina looked into her 
lover's eyes, and smiled. At that moment 
she felt supremely glad in the glow of a 
first youthful passion, and as George drew 
her near to him, bent above and kissed 
her cheek, the past shadows and misgivings 
which had momentarily darkened her soul 
were dissolved. 



134 ^y Connaught Cousins. 

Thus the two stood, forgetful of all save 
themselves, while not many yards behind 
them loomed a gaunt figure with silvern 
hair, whose eyes were fixed upon the lovers 
in malicious dislike, while his lips mut- 
tered, — 

" She has bewitched him, as I thought, 
but she shall suffer, she shall sufi"er ! " 

The summer months sped past, and 
autumn came ; the corn was cut and 
gathered, the sweet scent of newly-mown 
hay was gone from the air, and Cruna Is- 
land lay dark and barren, canopied by a 
cold, clear, grey sky. The autumn came, 
and with it came the time for George's 
departure. 

As the days rolled past swiftly, one 
after another, and that day drew near 



My Connattght Cousins. 135 

when he was to leave the island and re- 
turn for a time to his studies in the smoky 
southern citv, George grew sad and dis- 
heartened, oppressed by a feeling of appre- 
hension,' a vaofue foreshadowing; of evil, for 
which he could not account. 

Nightly he sought out Xina, whispering 
words of comfort in her ear, and drinking 
them again from her loving lips. 

Most willingly would George have re- 
nounced all thoughts of departure, and 
stayed on the lonely island by Nina's side ; 
but that could not be ; he must go — 
struorgrle aorainst the fates as he mio-ht, 
they still retained the mastery. At last 
the eve of the dreaded day arrived. 

" One little piece of hair, Xina, to kiss 
to-morrow when I am on the ocean," he 
asked, as he stood with Xina on the beach 



136 My Connaught Cousins. 

beside lier cabin for the last time. Nina 
drew back. 

"No, no!" 

" Why, darling ? " 

" Because — I am superstitious, dear ; 
you might never see me again ! " 

" Nonsense, darling, do not talk so ; to- 
night, let us be happy." 

"So we will, if we are never so again. 
Oh, George, I have been most happy since 
you came, but it will be weary here without 
you." 

" It will not be for long, Nina. Before 
you have realised that I am gone, I shall 
be back again. Promise me not to weary, 
promise to keep bright and well till I come 
back to claim you ! " 

" I will try ! " 

" Nina, why is it that you linger ? " 



My Con7iaught Cousins. 137 

It was the querulous voice of Aileen 
O'Connor calling from within the house. 

Nina turned. 

" I am coming, Aunt Aileen," then she 
held tight on to George's arm. " 'Tis not 
again that we'll meet, and we must just 
say good-bye here. I cannot come out and 
see you go. I could not bear it, with all 
those people staring at me, and the master, 
too, maybe. But," she added quickly, 
" I'll see you from the Creag-na-Ghoill ! " 

** I shall see you there ? " 

"Maybe." 

" One month, Nina ; remember then I 
shall be back to claim you openly, and dare 
them all." 

Nina shuddered. 

" Are you cold, darling ? " 

" A little ; 'tis like winter weather this. 



138 My Connaught Cousins. 

Fm thinking the snow will be here before 
a month." 

" Nina, do you hear ? Nina ! " The old 
woman's voice was more querulous than 
before. 

" I must go," said Nina, as she began to 
move reluctantly away. 

George's arms were at once enfolded 
around her. Gently placing her head on 
his breast, he kissed her again and again. 
For a moment she lay pillowed thus, then, 
with a half-stifled sob, she broke from his 
arms, and uttering a scarcely audible 
" Good-bye," ran into the hut. 

The next mornino: the sails of the cutter, 
which had brought the young master to 
Cruna, and which was to take him thence, 
were early set, and long before midday a 



My Connaught Cousins. 139 

crowd of people were collected on the shore 
watching the vessel. But as, with her 
W'hite sails gleaming in the light, the 
vessel sailed swiftly across the bay, past 
towering crags and lofty caverns, George 
became more agitated. 

With a keen, passionate glance, he 
diligently scanned the shore ; — as it neared 
the crag commonly known as the Creag- 
na-Ghoill, he drew^ from his j^ocket 
a white handkerchief, and holding it on 
high, waved and waved again. Then 
looking up, he saw Nina standing above 
him, on the extreme verge of the crag. 
In her hand she, too, held a handker- 
chief, w^hich she waved once, twice — then 
the handkerchief came fluttering down 
towards the ocean, as Nina moved back 
from the crag and w^as gone. 



CHAPTER VII. 




sooner had the young man left 
for the south than Mr Dun- 
roon began to ponder as to the 
best means of carrying out his plans con- 
cerning Nina. Of one thing he was cer- 
tain, that the girl must be got rid of 
before George's return, for were the two 
once again allowed to meet, all hopes 
of putting an end to the connection 
would be utterly futile. The scheme, 
however, seemed by no means easy of 
accomplishment, for since the master had 



My Connaught Cousins. 141 

thwarted that first insurrection, his people 
were not over anxious to resume their 
application. 

As a witch, Nina had come to 
be feared almost as much as her 
aunt ; and such was the superstition of 
the people, that they dreaded to turn 
her from the land, lest the curse which 
she would surely hurl upon their heads 
should blight their agricultural prospects 
for that season at least. So the time 
passed on, the inhabitants of Cruna Island 
began to look for the young master's 
return, and still nothing had been done. 
Mr Dunroon, fuming under his disap- 
pointment, looked about him for a means 
of rescue, but none seemed at hand. 
What was to be done must be done quickly, 
or George would be back and spoil all. 



142 My Connanght Cottsins. 

The girl once away, the master be- 
lieved that he would be safe ; for, in his 
excitement, he quite overlooked the fact 
that if they were once separated at 
Cruna, the lovers might ultimately meet 
elsewhere. Seeing that in this matter he 
could expect little voluntary help from 
his people, Mr Dunroon resolved to take 
the matter into his own hands, and gain 
his end. Thus he remained, silent but 
watchful, awaiting the opportunity which 
at last came. 

After her first sting of grief was over, 
Nina O'Connor recommenced her solitary 
walks. Alone she visited the spots where 
she had walked with George. Every 
place associated with him was dear to 
her. Indeed, the only gratification which 
she now felt was in brooding over the 



My Connaught Cousins. 143 

spots where they had wandered together ; 
for, as she did so, she almost heard his 
voice in her ear whispering to her words 
of love. 

Now, if Xina's walks were apparently 
harmless in character, they soon caused a 
revolution in the island, for no sooner 
did the girl emerge into the open air, 
than a series of calamities fell upon the 
land. One of Maguire's cows went dry 
and sickened on the very first day that 
Xina appeared. Certainly Mr Dunroon 
had stroked the cow ; but then there 
was nothing in that. The islanders thought 
'twas but kindly of the master to notice 
the beast ; it must be the witch's work. 

Two days after this incident one of 
Andy Beg's finest heifers was seen to 
drop stone dead scarcely a hundred yards 



144 ^y Connaught Cozisins. 

from Nina's feet. The heifer was known 
to be in perfect health, for only a short 
time before its death it had eaten a wisp 
of hay from the masters very hand. 
A little later, one of the islanders 
offered to Mr Dunroon a valuable filly 
which he had for sale. The master was 
pleased with the animal, but before con- 
cludino" the bargain he wanted to test 
the powers of the horse in a ride over 
the island. 

From a crowd of admiring islanders he 
galloped off along the road which led past 
the hut of Aileen O'Connor. As he came 
within sight of the cabin he saw Nina 
standing by the roadside, watching him 
with strange earnestness. Scarcely had 
the pony trotted half a mile beyond her 
when it was seized with violent quiver- 



My Connaught Cousins. 145 

ings ; it foamed at the mouth, gnashed 
its teeth, threw up its head, and became 
altoorether unmanao-eable. 

o o 

The master dismounted, a crowd quickly- 
gathered ; in the midst of which stood 
the owner, furious, and desperate with 
rage and mortification, as he saw his 
pony expire before his very eyes. What 
human soul could continue to doubt the 
substantiality of a fact when it was 
brought before him in so very marked a 
manner ? 

As the islanders looked upon the animal, 
they, one and all, became furious as the 
owner himself. Misfortune after misfor- 
tune had fallen upon them, and although 
the master generously ofiered at once to 
pay the price of the pony, and become 
himself the loser for the deed, the 

VOL. II. K 



146 My Connaught Cousins. 

islanders resolved to take the law into 
their own hands, and right their private 
wrongs. 

After Mr Dunroon had galloped along 
the road, and passed from her sight, 
Nina turned, and began to descend the 
rocky path which led to her home. Her 
mind was full of strange misgivings, and 
the expression of the man's eyes as they 
had momentarily glanced into her face 
haunted her. 

" He means me no good," she thought ; 
" why does the sight of him fill me with 
such fear, I wonder ? I wish George 
was here ! " 

The door of the cabin stood ajar. Nina 
pushed it open, and entered. Instead 
of sitting in her accustomed place, Aileen 
O'Connor stood upon the hearth, dili- 



My Connaught Cousins, 147 

gently pulling together the smouldering 
turf-sods. In a moment Nina was beside 
her. 

" Shall I sort the fire, Aunt Aileen ? " 

The ghastly face was turned towards 
her, and the querulous voice replied, — 

" Can you not see that / am sort- 
ing it ? " 

Nina remained silent, too well accus- 
tomed to the querulous tone to make 
reply. Presently Aileen placed the tongs 
on the hearth, and resumed her accus- 
tomed seat, while Nina quietly retired to 
the window recess. 

" Where is it you have been, Nina ? " 
asked Aileen at length. 

"On the cliffs above," was the gentle 
reply. 

" Ay, you are ever on the cliffs," the 



148 My Connaught Cousins. 

old woman soliloquised ; " thinking little 
of me, though I sit here alone for ever. 
'Tis the way of the world — the old are 
forgotten and neglected. 'Tis ever the 
way, and I share the fate of the rest." 

Advancing from the window, Nina ap- 
proached her aunt's chair, put a hand on 
each shoulder, and bent her face towards 
her. 

" Dear Aunt Aileen, shall I read to 
you % " 

" Eead to me ? Why should you ? " 
ms the sharp answer ; " that, too, is a 
burden, I suppose ? " 

With a low sigh, the girl again retired 
to the window recess, and resting her 
arms on the sill, looked out upon the 
ocean. There was silence for a time, then 
the old woman spoke again. 



My Connaught Cousins, 149 

** Why are you not reading, Nina ? " 
she asked, and without reply the girl 
lifted from the shelf the old stained Bible, 
and began to read aloud, while Aileen 
crossed her bony hands upon her knee, 
and fixed her lack-lustre eye upon her 
tombstone. 

Scarcely half-an-hour had passed, and 
Nina's voice still sounded softly in the 
room, when a rush of many feet broke 
the silence without, and suddenly a crowd 
of people swooped upon the cabin, en- 
tirely surrounding it. Before Nina could 
move, the door was rudely pushed open, 
and the crowd poured into the room with 
a fierce cry, — 

" The witches ! Out with the witches ! " 

Nina rose to her feet and confronted 
them, but ere she could utter a word she 



150 My Connaught Cousins. 

was roughly seized by the wrist, forced out 
of the door, and hemmed round by the 
crowd without, while on all hands the 
fiercest denunciations were hissed into her 
ear. In the midst of the crowd Nina stood 
confounded, utterly taken aback by the 
suddenness of the attack ; but soon she 
recovered, and, wrenching herself free, 
looked defiantly around. 

" Stand back ! " she cried, " stand back ! " 
What have I done to be served like this ? " 

" Hear the witch ! hear the witch ! " was 
roared on every hand. 

" Who killed my cow ? " asked one, as a 
savage face confronted her. 

"And who killed my horse — my best 
horse ? The devil blast you ! " 

Nina looked calmly into the eyes which 
were glaring upon her. 



My Connaught Cousins, 151 

" I know nothing of what you say ; but 
I never worked you harm — no, not one of 
you." 

A fierce, derisive laugh was the reply. 
Ere the girl could speak again she felt her- 
self lifted from her feet and borne towards 
the ocean. Wildly she gazed around for 
help. The faces looming about her were 
fierce and pitiless, almost demoniac in their 
savage brutality ; the sea of human faces 
hemmed her in on every hand ; but as Nina 
glanced despairingly around, her eyes fell 
upon an uncovered head, which was close 
beside her, mingling with the rest — the 
white head of Mr Dunroon. Gathering 
together all her strength, the girl made 
a tremendous effort, dashed through the 
crowd, caught the master by the sleeve 
and cried for mercy. 



1 5 2 My Connaught Cousins. 

" Think what it would be to have your 
own child treated so," she said, " and have 
some pity for me ! Think what it is to 
turn on a helpless girl and an old woman ! 
— you have power — never let them harm 
us!" 

The man turned from her, muttering 
fiercely, — 

" They shall not harm you, but I'll have 
no witches on Cruna. You shall go, and 
never return again ! " 

Nina's face grew paler, but she retained 
her hold. 

" Turn us from Cruna ! " she said, almost 
breathlessly ; "as well kill us outright as 
send us away into the world, where we 
have no kindred and no friends ! Take 
back your word, sir, and never do 
that ! " 



J 



My Connaiight Cousins. 15 

The man roughly endeavoured to shake 
her away. 

" Let go, I say ; I'll have no witches 
here ! " 

Still holding on his arm, Nina ex- 
claimed, — 

" Why are you so cruel ? T\^at have 
we done that you should serve us so ? 
For years you have hated me. I know 
it ; I have seen it in your face. You 
are a hard, cruel man. 'Tis you, I know, 
and only you, who have turned these 
people against me. But you will not 
be suffered to go on so. Take care, old 
man, lest God's curse fall upon you for 
what you do ! " 

Nina stood, wild with excitement, her 
hand convulsively clasped around the 
master's arm. while her face loomed be- 



154 ^y Connaught Cousins, 

fore him deathly pale. What was it in 
the girl's face that penetrated into his 
heart, and almost softened his hard resolve ? 

As the man gazed upon those features, 
his frame quivered through and through ; 
every line, every feature seemed familiar 
to him, and her bright brown eyes held 
him for a time with almost magnetic in- 
fluence. He gazed breathlessly upon her ; 
then, like one suddenly relieved from a 
terrible spell, he breathed again, covered 
his eyes with his hand, and cowered before 
her, muttering under his breath, — 

" Begone, begone ! " 

Suddenly there was a crash and a loud 
cry. The crowd congregated on the beach 
uttered a brutal shout of savage glee. 

Turning round, Nina beheld a tongue 
of bright red flame flaring high into the 



My Connaught Cousins. 155 

air. They had set fire to the cabin ; the 
only house which the girl ever remem- 
bered was burning to the ground before 
her eyes. With a wild shriek she threw 
up her arms, and cried, — 

" What have you done — what have you 
done ? My Aunt Aileen — where is my 
poor aunt ? " 

In her agony the girl would have rushed 
through the crowd to the burning cabin, 
when her arm was caught in a j)o^'6i'f^l 
grip, and, looking back, she saw her 
aunt standing close by — a gaunt, spectral 
figure in the fiery light. Her ashen 
cheeks had in them no tinge of colour. 
Apparently unmoved by the terrible situ- 
ation, Aileen O'Connor stood still as a 
statue, with one of her bony hands clasped 
around Nina's arm, and her lustreless eyes 



156 My Connaught Cousins, 

gazing sternly upon the crouching figure of 
the man. Nina's heart bounded with joy. 

" You are safe ! " she cried ; " dear Aunt 
Aileen, you are safe ! " 

** Yes," replied the old woman in her 
usual measured, querulous tones, but with 
a strange light in her eyes. " I am 
saved for this, to stand on the shore 
of Cruna, and see the master turn 
Nina O'Connor from her home." Then 
turning to the master, who stood before 
her like one bewitched, she said in harsh 
grating tones, — " My time has come. 
I have waited long, but it has come 
at last. You remember the last words 
of Aileen, the crushed down, heart- 
broken Aileen O'Connor ? " Then point- 
ing with her long thin finger towards 
Nina, she cried, — *' Hurl your curses 



My Connaught Cousins. 157 

upon her as you hurled them upon me. 
Crush her, despise her, thrust her away 
as you did awhile ago ; the very sight 
of her is hateful to you ; she knows it, 
and I know it. She hates you, she 
despises you, for through you, remember 
through you, she is a wretched out- 
cast ! " 

The old man stood speechless, while the 
death-like eyes of the woman were fixed 
with a hungry light upon his face. Closer 
the crowd pressed around with furious 
faces, crying in Irish, — 

" She is mad, she will bewitch the 
master, cast her away ! " 

The girl clung wildly to her aunt, and 
turned her face upon the people. 

"You shall not harm her," she cried. 
" Aunt — dear Aunt Aileen, come away, 



158 My Connaught Cousins. 

we will go, we will leave this hateful 
place, and these cruel people, and we will 
never come back again." 

As she looked into the girl's face, the old 
woman uttered a hard, cold laugh. 

" See how she clings to me," she cried, 
almost fiercely, as she turned her eyes again 
upon Mr Dunroon. "To me, though I 
have scarcely given her a kind word, a 
kind look, she clings to me, and you she 
hates and loathes. Think of this, re- 
member this, on your dying bed ! " 

" Woman, what do you mean ? " cried the 
master. " Get you gone, I say, and never 
come here again. Curse on the hour when 
your face came first to torture me ! " 

The stern face of the old woman broke 
into a ghastly smile. 

" I am going," she said, '* but she is 



My Connatcgkt Cousins. 159 

going with me. The girl is with the old 
woman, whilst you are left childless. If I 
am an outcast, she is an outcast too ; re- 
member that ! " 

*' Curses on you both ! what is the girl 
to me ? " 

The old woman looked almost trium- 
phantly into his face as she replied, — 

" Think on that when she is gone away ! " 

Dunroon turned fiercely from her. 

" Take them away ! " he cried ; " turn 
them out ! Drag them from my sight ! " 

The crowd again pressed around the two, 
and Nina clung close to her aunt as if to 
protect her, as she whispered, — 

" Come away, Aunt Aileen, come away. 
He is a cruel man ! " 

Yielding to the girl, Aileen O'Connor 
moved slowly down the beach, her gaunt 



i6o My Connaught Cousins, 

figure straight as an arrow, and her head 
towering above the heads of those w^ho 
pressed around her. Slowly the night 
shadows were gathering around them, the 
sky, covered here and there with thick 
masses of cloud, loomed heavily above the 
earth. On the distant mountain tops 
patches of snow gleamed in the light. 
Surrounded by the jeering crowd the two 
figures moved slowly oceanward. Her face 
pale as death, and her eyes bright and tear- 
less, Nina walked along half-dazed, half- 
stupefied, deaf to the taunts which were 
constantly hissed into her ear. Once she 
paused, and looked back long and lovingly 
at the spot where she had spent so many 
years of her life. No vestige of the hut 
remained, but a mass of smouldering black 
ruins were scattered at the base of the rock. 



My Connaiight Cozes ins. i6i 

At the sight, her face became paler still, her 
brow contracted, her lips compressed, but 
without a sigh she turned and walked in 
silence until the two reached the edg;e of 
the sea. There thev paused. An unfore- 
seen difficulty arose. 

The islanders, who were so anxious to 
banish the outcasts, seemed, nevertheless, 
most unwilling to convey them from thence, 
fearing that in their spite the two women 
might exert their evil influence over any 
smack which they boarded, and so cause its 
destruction. 

The scene now became more boisterous 
than before, and the two unfortunates would 
probably have sustained some injury from 
the people had the uproar not been sud- 
denly stopped. The skipper of a yawl, 

which lay in the bay prepared for starting, 
VOL. II. L 



1 62 My Connaught Cotcsins. 

generously volunteered, out of pity, to take 
the women on board. The ship's boat was 
waiting on the shore, and into it Ailcen 
O'Connor stepped without a word. Nina 
should have followed, but suddenly she 
turned, faced the master, who had followed 
them down, and fell upon the shore at his 
feet. 

*' Oh, sir, have pity ! " she cried ; " may- 
be you have a kindly heart after all ; never 
turn us away homeless and friendless as we 
are ! " 

The man thrust her away. 

" Away with you !" he cried, and Nina was 
seized roughly, cast into the boat, and ere 
she had finally recovered from her dazed 
amazement, she was seated on the deck of 
the yawl, which was sailing swiftly out of 
the harbour. Silently the girl sat with her 



My Connaught Cousins. i6 



eyes fixed wildly upon the shore, as the 
vessel struck out to the open sea, and Cruna 
Island faded away into a mist. So concen- 
trated had her gaze become that she was 
blind to all else, utterly unconscious that 
another vessel, a large cutter, with all her 
sails set and filled, was ploughing swiftly 
through the water, and making straight for 
the land which they had left. 




CHAPTER VIII. 




CAECELY an hour had passed 
since the yawl had faded from 
view, and the crowd was still 
congregated on the beach, when the cutter, 
which had passed the yawl in the open 
water outside Cruna, rounded the northern 
point of the island, and sailed swiftly 
into the bay. No sooner had it come to 
a safe anchorage than a boat put off, 
and pulled towards the shore, and the 
islanders beheld, seated in the stern, none 
other than the young master himself 

George had not been expected so soon, 



My Connaught Cotcsins. 165 

yet his sudden appearance caused no con- 
sternation in the minds of the islanders. 
They knew nothing of the relations be- 
tween him and Nina. 

The master himself had left the 
beach, and returned to his house, and 
as yet knew nothing of his nephew's 
arrival. Eagerly the islanders crowded 
to the water's edge to welcome the young 
man home. However, he paid little or 
no attention to their salutes. They soon 
noticed that something unusual had oc- 
curred to bring him back so soon amongst 
them ; for George wore a broad, black 
band upon his hat, and his face was 
whiter than the foam of the sea. Leap- 
ing out on to the shingle, he hurriedly 
passed through the ranks of men sur- 
rounding him. 



1 66 My Connattght Cousins. 

"What vessel was that we passed 
yonder?" he asked, without raising his 
eyes from the ground. 

" 'Twas a yawl, sir, that came from the 
south a week ago, and is bound home- 
ward." 

"They must have been mad to sail 
out to-night. There's a storm brewing, 
and an awful sea rising out in the 
open." 

The islanders glanced meaningly into 
each other's faces, but, without once look- 
ing towards them, George hurried on 
direct for his uncle's house. His manner 
was singularly agitated, his brow knit, 
his pale face troubled by an ex- 
pression of mental agony. On reaching 
the house he quietly entered, and, walk- 
ing along the lobby, paused before a half- 



Afy Connaught Coitsins. 167 

open door. The room which it revealed 
was cast in heavy shadow, but through 
the dim light could be faintly seen the 
figure of Mr Dunroon, seated upon the 
hearth in a great arm-chair, with his 
bowed head resting upon his hand, and 
his eyes bent upon the ground, while 
the bright firelight fell upon his furrowed 
face and silver hair. The expression of 
his face was more peevish, the features 
more pinched than ever, and as he sat 
there in the crleam of the firelio'ht, he 
looked worn-out and wretched with sorrow 
and years. Advancing into the room, 
George paused beside the chair, and 
placed his hand on the old man's 
shoulder, at which the master rose to 
his feet, and faced him, exclaiming, — 
" George ! so soon ! " Then, as his eyes 



1 68 My Connaught Cousins. 

fell upon his nephew's face and dress, he 
asked in a softer tone, — " What has hap- 
pened, my boy ? Is it ill news that has 
brought you back to Cruna ? " 

George looked steadfastly into the old 
man's face, and, still keeping his hand 
on his shoulder, said quietly, — 

" Good news, and ill news, uncle. My 
mother is dead." 

" Dead ! " echoed Mr Dunroon faintly ; 
then his dull eyes grew almost tender in 
expression as he looked in his nephew's 
face. 

" You are friendless now, George," he 
said, " friendless as I am ; but we will 
keep together now, my boy. Cruna shall 
be your home." 

George half turned away. 

" Cruna shall never belong to me," he 



My Connaught Cousins. 169 

said ; " you are not friendless, as you 
suppose, uncle, for your own child still 
lives." 

A quiver passed through Dunroon's frame. 

"My child!" he exclaimed. ''George, 
I have no child, she was taken from me 
before I saw her ; ay, eighteen years ago 
she was drowned at sea ! " As he spoke, 
the old man s voice ranor with a low wail 

o 

of sorrow. 

" She was not drowned," continued 
George, " for she was never on the ship ! 
Listen, uncle. At the last moment your 
wife started alone, leaving her child with 
my mother. The vessel went down, and 
you believed the mother and child were 
drowned ; but the child was safe in the 
south. My mother never forgave you, 
uncle, for refusing to help my father out 



170 My Con7iaught Coiisms. 

of some trouble ; she declared that through 
your hardness you caused his death ; so 
when she heard that you were grieving 
for your child, she thought little of your 
suffering, and was only bent on making 
me your heir." 

George paused. The old man trembled ; 
but, without raising his head, he merely 
said in a low voice, — 

" Go on, my boy ; go on ! " 

" You can partly guess the rest, uncle. 
I was sent here to console you, and your 
own child was detained. My mother kept 
her for a few years, but fearing the secret 
might ooze out, she at length entrusted 
her to the care of a woman-servant in the 
house. That woman was Aileen O'Connor. 
The two were sent away together to the 
States of America, and for a time nothing 



My Co7inatight Cousi7is. 171 

was heard of them. Now, uncle, mark the 
terrible decrees of Providence. Some years 
ago these same two arrived at Cruna, and 
ever since then your own child has been 
living near you, like any common peasant 
girl ! " 

Up to this moment the old man had 
sat silent, but as George uttered the last 
words, the dull eyes flashed with an un- 
earthly light ; the features grew more 
contracted. Rising to his feet he faced 
his nephew, and in a quivering voice ex- 
claimed, — 

"Nina OXWnor!" 

" Yes, uncle ; Nina O'Connor ! " 

Mr Dunroon's hand clenched, and his 
face grew pale as death. 

" It is false ! " he exclaimed. " She is 
no child of mine ! " 



172 My Connaught Cousins. 

Amazed at this unexpected change, 
George stood for a moment utterly speech- 
less ; then he stepped forward, and put 
his hand on the old man's shoulder. 

" I tell you it is true, uncle," he replied. 
" My own mother confessed it to me on 
her death-bed ! " 

'' I say it is false, George ! " cried the 
master vehemently ; " every word of it is 
false ! The girl is no kin of mine, but of 
hers — of that accursed woman — Aileen 
O'Connor. Didn't I know she'd bring me 
no good ? Didn't I know that evil would 
come with her ? I felt it — I knew it. But 
I will thwart her, I tell you, even if the 
devil himself is leagued with her asrainst 
me." 

" Uncle," said George, " do not rave so, 
think of it sensibly ; my mother has done 



My Connatigkt Cousins. 173 

you the greatest wrong, but you must for- 
give her now, and rejoice at getting back 
your child." 

" She is not my child ! " cried the old 
man, turning fiercely ujoon his nephew. 
" Don't you hear what I say, George ? she 
is no child of mine ! But they are all 
against me, and you have joined them too — 
you above all. Haven't I treated you well, 
George, and cherished you like my o^ti ? 
and didn't I mean to leave you the island, 
yes, every acre of it ? and yet you can turn 
upon me like this ; ay, heap sorrow and 
degradation upon the head of your bene- 
factor ! " 

With a plaintive wail, the old man sank 
again into his chair, while the wind, which 
had been slowly rising, shrieked fiercely 
around the house, and a vivid flash of 



174 ^y Connaught Cousins. 

light darting through the pane for a 
moment brightly illuminated the room. 
George stood irresolute, with his eyes 
fixed upon the old man, who sat still, 
cowering in the chair, with his broad hand 
tremblingly pressed upon his face. For 
a moment both remained silent, then 
George, advancing to his uncle's chair, said 
quietly, — 

'* Uncle, have you not wronged your child 
enough that you must continue to do so 
now ? All her life she has been crushed 
down by you, her father, from whom she 
should have sought protection. But you 
shall not continue to commit a crime while 
I can prevent it. Nina shall no longer 
be an outcast, for I will bring her to her 
home !" 

Kaising his head, Mr Dunroon gazed into 



Afy Connaught Coicsins. 175 

his nephew's face with a dogged look of 
triumph. 

" That is beyond you, George," he said 
quietly ; " the girl is gone ! " 

" Gone ! " ejaculated the young man, 
rising excitedly to his feet. 

"Yes, she is beyond your reach now," 
said Dunroon ; " she sailed away this very 
night, and, by God's help, she will never 
tread these shores again." 

In a moment George turned almost 
savagely upon him. 

" What have you done ? " he exclaimed ; 
*' to what have your passions led you at 
last ? You have sent your child to her death. 
Do not stand there cursing her when she 
may be sinking to her doom, but ask God 
to forgive you for your cruelty and shame." 

As George paused, there was a terrible 



176 My Connaught Cousins. 

crash, the wind shrieked more shrilly, and 
the lightning flashed into his face. Ap- 
palled at last the old man shrank away like 
a frightened child. Despite his savage re- 
futation of the statement made to him, Mr 
Dunroon in his heart was credulous of its 
probable truth. Now he remembered the 
tender feelings which a glance from Nina's 
eyes had awakened in his soul, and which, 
to cover his secret fears, he had attri- 
buted to the " evil eye ; " and, in looking 
back at the girl's face, he almost seemed to 
see in her the image of his lost wife. Now 
he remembered, too, the wild words which 
Aileen O'Connor had uttered in his ear only 
that very night, as she stood with the girl 
on the beach ; how with her bony finger 
she had pointed to the girl, and exclaimed 
with savage glee, — 



My Connatight Cousins. 177 

"See how she clings to me, while \jo\i 
she hates and loathes ! " 

All now seemed to grow clear. He felt 
the stor}^ was true. The two women had 
wrought their revenge ; for twenty years 
he had been desolate, and in the end he 
had, perhaps, compassed the death of his 
only child. Frantic and heart-sick, the 
old man screamed out in pain, — 

" George," he cried, " be silent. Aileen 
O'Connor has w^orked her ruin. I never 
meant to kill her. Spare me, for God's 
sake, snare me ! Have I not suffered 
enough ? " 

" And has she not suffered, uncle ? " 
George asked. " Promise me now, if she 
is spared to-night, that you will repair all 
the wrong you have done her." 

" I promise anything you w^ish, only 

VOL. II. M 



178 My Connaught Cousins, 

leave me in peace," the old man cried 
in madness, as, quivering through and 
through, he turned from his nephew and 
sank silently into his chair. George left 
the room and the house, and the door shut- 
ting behind him with a crash, locked him 
out into the storm. 




CHAPTEE IX. 




AZED and half-stupefied, like one 
in a half-dream, Nina con- 
tinued to sit where they had 
placed her on the deck of the yawl, with 
her eyes strained in the direction of 
Cruna Island. The breeze, which had 
brought them from Cruna, grew less and 
less, until, when they had left the island 
some six miles behind them, it entirely 
died away. The water seemed throbbing 
as with some hidden trouble, — black, 
glassy, and direful, it washed against 



i8o My Connaught Cozisins. 

the sides of the vessel with a dreary 
moan. Overhead the floating masses of 
black cloud were congregated into one 
thick mass, which loomed down upon the 
surface of the sea. The air was full of 
a mysterious heat, which became almost 
stifling in its oppressiveness. 

For miles and miles away the points 
of the land loomed clearly visible, the 
very cattle standing distinct upon the 
heights, and lowing softly, answering each 
other, while the sheep were bleating from 
height to height. 

Like a lazy log upon the water lay 
the yawl, rolled this way, that way, by 
the liquid mountains which rose around 
her, while in the bow the men stood 
whispering together amongst themselves, 
gazing suspiciously at the lowering sky. 



My Connaicght Cousins, i8i 

Nina still sat silent, while close behind 
her was Aileen O'Connor, looking stern 
and forbidding, with her hands crossed, 
aad her bloodless lips compressed. Gaz- 
ing longingly at the land which they 
had left, Nina remained motionless. At 
length, overcome by extreme excitement 
and fatigue, her eyes closed, her head 
rested against the bulwark, she passed 
her arm around the side riocrino- of the 
ship, and fell into a half-fainting doze. 
She had remained thus for some time, 
when she was suddenly and violently 
awakened. The vessel gave a tremendous 
lurch, throwing her forward upon the 
deck, almost into the sea. In a moment 
she was caught by one of the sailors 
and lifted to her feet. She opened her 
eyes and looked around. To her amaze- 



i82 My Connaught Cousins. 

ment, it had grown perfectly dark, no 
single landmark was visible. The wind, 
which had risen, whistled shrilly amidst 
the rigging. With a clatter of feet the 
men hurried to and fro upon the deck, and 
the vessel, with all her sails well reefed, was 
tearing along through a swiftly-rising sea. 

Nina looked for her aunt. She was 
standing in the stern, holding on by a 
part of the shrouds, her head uncovered, 
a black shawl drawn tightly around her 
shoulders, her grey hair blown wildly 
about her face, and her eyes steadfastly 
fixed before her. 

" Clear away, mistress, if 'tis not into 
the sea that you want to go." 

And as the sailor pushed roughly past, 
Nina scrambled back to her place, and 
took a firm hold of the rigging. 



My Connaught Cousins. 183 

She was just in time. The yawl gave 
a great plunge, which sent the men stag- 
gering along the deck; and, simultane- 
ously, a huge wave arose, and dashed 
foaming upon the deck, sweeping all that 
lay there into the sea. 

Drenched now from head to foot, Nina 
clung still tighter, and watched the dark- 
ness of the sea. Black and angry arose 
the huge waves, crested with boiling surf, 
which hissed and foamed upon them, 
and, being caught up by the wind, was 
scattered in the air like drifting smoke, 
while the ship plunged headlong into 
the ocean, now rising, suspended in the 
air, then plunging down, lost for a 
moment in a mass of sea smoke and 
hissing foam. 

Above, the heavens loomed threateningly. 



184 My Connaught Cousins. 

Thick black masses of cloud, rudely rent 
asunder by the rising wind, were shot swiftly 
across the sky, while in the west, vivid rays 
of light played momentarily, cutting up the 
clouds and flashing down upon the sea ; the 
thunder crashed and roared overhead. 

Around was darkness impenetrable, shut- 
ting out the land, veiling all save the flash- 
ing foam which flew about the ship. At 
the wheel the steersman stood, buttoned 
to the throat, with his shiny cap pulled low 
over his anxious eyes. 

" Where are we ? " asked Nina. But 
before the man could reply there was a 
sudden rush. 

"Lower the peak!" cried a voice, 
and no sooner was the order obeyed 
than a wild gust struck the vessel, tear- 
ing fiercely at the dripping sail as 



My Con7iaught Cousins. 185 

if to rend it into shreds, while the 
water washed in a stream about the deck. 
There was a crash. As the gust less- 
ened in violence the ship righted her- 
self, quivering from stem to stern, and 
one or two rope - ends dangled in the 
air. 

" Three blocks gone ; ease her up, or we'll 
lose every stitch." 

" Can't you make out her bearings, 
skipper ? " asked the steersman. 

" No ; keep her a-head ; I fancy we're in 
the open." The skipper disappeared, while 
the steersman muttered — 

" Why the devil did he come out on this 
h — of a coast without a compass ? Who 
on earth could see through that blackness ? 
Saugh ! " as a wave curled above him and 
washed him from head to foot : " the 



1 86 My Connaught Cousins. 

storm's growing. Maybe the — witches 
mean to drown us ; anyhow, we stand a 
poor chance of reaching land this night." 

Every moment the wind increased ; wildly 
it shrieked around the vessel, fiercely it tore 
at the fragments of dripping sail, while with 
almost bare poles, dripping as she arose 
from the waves, the yawl plunged on. 
Throughout all this tumult, still holding 
on by the side rigging of the ship, the 
old woman kept her place. Again and 
again the waves arose and dashed about 
her, drenching her from head to foot, and 
almost sweeping her into the sea. Her 
hands were bruised with clinging, her grey 
hair was blown about by the wind, and 
her cheeks were cut by the blinding sea 
scum which was ever dashed rudely into 
her face. The shrieking wind was bitter. 



My Connaught Cousins. 187 

the water was almost frozen upon the deck, 
but Aileen O'Connor seemed indifferent to 
the elements ; her face was set. her lack- 
lustre eyes retained their hard, cold look ; 
yet ever as they fell upon Xina, who, 
drenched and shivering, clung wildly to 
the vessel's side, the hard, cold gleam of 
the face softened, as her bloodless lips 
muttered, — 

"iJedidit!— Aedidit!" 

Suddenly a vivid flash of light illu- 
minated the whole ocean. It seemed that 
the heavens had been torn apart, and, blaz- 
ing with lurid light, fallen down upon 
the sea. Almost simultaneously there was 
a tremendous crash ; the vessel trembled 
from stem to stern, quivered like a fright- 
ened thing, and again plunged onward. 
The seamen shrieked. Nina covered her 



1 88 My Connaught Cousins. 

eyes with her hand, and when she looked 
again all had become dark. The skipper 
stood calling loudly to his men. On the 
deck splinters of wood and sail lay scattered, 
while several men were employed in cutting 
the wreck away. The mizen-mast had been 
shivered to splinters by the lightning flash, 
and one man, struck to death, washed from 
the deck into the sea. 

Bereft now of mizen-mast, and scarcely 
a shred of sail left upon her pole, the 
vessel laboured on, though the violence of 
the storm seemed slowly to increase. Nina, 
growing sick with fear, clung tighter to 
the bulwarks ; while the waves swept over 
her again and again. Eagerly she tried to 
penetrate the darkness, and catch a glimpse 
of the faces of the sailors in vain. Again 
and again she asked some question, but 



My Comtattght Cousins. 189 

received no reply. The men rushed here 
and there, clinging to the ropes as they 
went, heedless of all save the growing peril. 
Quivering through and through, drenched 
from mast to stern, the great yawl tossed 
like a toy upon the waves. For a moment 
she was suspended high in the air, on the 
crest of a breaking wave ; then, with a 
deafening crash, she plunged down as if 
into the very depths of the ocean. Simul- 
taneously then was a cry, a rush, a roar 
of breaking waves, and a hea\y surging 
sound, and above the din arose the voice 
of the skipper, — 

" Man the pumps ! " 

Instantly some of the sailors rushed to 
obey the command ; while others remained 
to tear down the last remaining shred of 
sail. 



1 90 My Connaught Cousins. 

" She's sinking ! " cried one of tHe men ; 
'* we had better leave her and take to 
the boat?" 

" Ghost of a chance you'd have in the 
boat in this sea. Keep to the pumps ; 
maybe we'll save her." 

" Never ; the water's knee-deep in the 
hold—" 

The rest was lost. A shrieking squall 
swept down upon the ship, burying her 
side in the sea ; a wave broke directly 
above her, and fell with a roar upon her 
deck, then poured again into the ocean. 
Tremblingly the vessel righted herself, 
and the skipper, with the water running 
off him in a stream, turned again to the 
helmsman. He was gone, swept away 
into the sea, and the ship was drifting 
helplessly upon the waves. Another man 



My Connaiight Cousins. 191 

sprang to his place, but too late. Beaten 
about like a cork upon the ocean, utterly 
unmanageable, with a stream of water 
pouring into her hold, the vessel drifted 
on to destruction. The skipper crept 
anxiously along the deck, and sought his 
men, and at his approach there was a cry, — 

" She's foundering ! — the water's rising ; 
we cannot keep her afloat much longer." 

" Lower the boat ! " the skipper cried 
hastily ; " 'tis our only chance." 

The pumps were at once deserted, and 
there was a rush on deck while the boat 
was being lowered into the sea. 

Up to this Nina had remained silent, 
dreading to speak, afraid to move, lest a 
wave should suddenly break above her 
and sweep her from the deck. But when 
she saw the crew about to desert the 



192 My Connaught Cousins. 

vessel, the dread of being overlooked and 
left there to die overcame all her other 
fears, and cautiously leaving her place, 
she seized the arm of a sailor who was 
hurrying by — 

''Wait," she said; "for heaven's sake 
help me to get my aunt over yonder to 
the boat ! " 

The man roughly shook her away. 

" Hold off, mistress ; the old witch 
must take her chance. Every man for 
himself." 

He rushed past her on to the other 
side of the vessel, and disappeared over 
into the boat. The girl crept back to 
where her aunt stood, took her round the 
waist, and said hurriedly, — 

" Come, Aunt Aileen, quick, before an- 
other wave breaks, or we shall be left ! " 



My Connaught Cousins. 193 

Strengthened in her excitement, she 
dragged the old woman along the deck 
to the spot where the boat was lowered. 
All the crew had descended ; the boat 
was about to push off, and the skipper, 
who alone stood on the deck, was pre- 
paring to leap in, when Nina relinquished 
her aunt and seized him, forcibly holding 
him back. 

" Let us come first," she cried ; " hand 
my aunt down." 

The man turned. 

" There's no room there," he said ; " the 
boat's full enough, and I must look to my 



crew." 



" Oh, never leave us, never leave us 
here ! " Nina cried, holding him tightly by 
the arm, but he roughly pushed her away. 

" Ghost of a chance we'd have with the 

VOL. II. N 



194 ^y Connaught Cousins, 

pair of you on board ; we must look to 
ourselves, I tell you ; " and, as if to quiet 
his own conscience qualms, lie mentally 
added, " maybe, after all, the folks were 
right, and, if they're a couple of witches, 
they'd surely work us more harm ; better 
leave them where they are." 

In a moment he leapt over the side into 
the boat, and loudly commanded the men 
to push off. 

Frantic with terror, Nina screamed 
aloud, — 

" Come back ! take my aunt ; only take 
her, and I will stay. Have pity, for God's 
sake, have pity ! " 

Her prayers were lost. Heedless of all 
save their own safety, the men pulled away 
into the breaking waves ; one moment 
more, and they were lost to view, while 



My Connaught Cousins. 195 

speechless, terror-stricken, and sick, Nina 
and Aileen O'Connor stood alone on the 
deck of the foundering vessel. 

For a moment the girl stood gazing witli 
terrified eyes at the spot where the boat 
had disappeared, then, seeing that her only 
hope had gone, she turned, and without a 
word, crouched down on the deck beside her 
aunt. Silent, speechless, motionless, the oM 
woman sat upon the drenching boards, her 
gaunt figure drawn up straight, and her 
lack-lustre eyes fixed vacantly upon the sea. 

Seemingly impenetrable to all outward 
sensations, she sat like a figure of stone, 
but w^hen the girl crouched down beside 
her, she turned her head, and almost in- 
stinctively her bony arm was reached forth, 
and clasped around Nina's neck. Never 
before, in the whole course of her life, had 



196 My Connaught Cousins. 

Nina felt that hard hand rest so gently 
upon her, never before had she received 
one sign of affection from the stern woman 
whom she called her aunt. 

Always sullen and bitter, the woman 
had ever repelled any outward show of 
love in the child, who, from her infancy, 
had lived under strict restraint, uncared 
for, and with none but the gloomy woman 
for whom to care. 

When Nina felt the hard hand pressed 
so softly around her neck, her excitement 
was wrought to its fullest pitch. Clasping 
her arms around her aunt's waist, she burst 
into hysterical tears. 

•' Oh aunt, dear Aunt Aileen," she cried, 
" it was cruel of them to leave you here ; 
why did they not take you, and leave me 
here alone ? " 



My Connaught Cousins. 197 

Immediately the . old woman withdrew 
her arm, and broke out in her wonted 
querulous tones. 

" Why should they take me ? Isn't it 
as well for an old woman like me to die ? " 
Then, as Nina remained silent, she con- 
tinued in a more excited tone, " Why 
should you blame them, when they are not 
to blame ? Would they have brought us 
out here ? .Would they have exiled us 
from Cruna ? 'Tis no fault of theirs that 
we die, but of him, and him alone, who 
placed us in their hands ! " 

" He was cruel, too," said Nina softly ; 
"he is a bad man, but maybe he never 
thouo-ht of this ; he could not foresee the 
storm." 

•' Could he not ? " cried the old woman 
fiercely ; " but I tell you he could, Xina. 



198 My Connaught Cousins. 

'Twas what he meant, for us to die to- 
gether. He has worked it out at last, he 
has brought vengeance upon himself, if he 
only knew \ " 

''Aunt Aileen," cried the girl. 

The old woman started, drew up her gaunt 
figure to its full height, grasped the rigging 
with one hand, and with the other pointed 
to the flashing sky. 

" If I called God's vengeance upon him," 
she cried, " if God's wrath descended upon 
his head, he could not be more crushed 
down than he is ; and who has done this, 
but I, Aileen O'Connor, the girl whom he 
ruined, the girl whom he hunted from his 
dominions, and cast away, with an old man, 
to starve in the southern land ! Ay ! " she 
continued, half muttering to herself, " little 
(£ood has come to him : God's curse has 



My Connaught Cousins. 199 

followed him ; and now this is the 
end." 

Nina clasped her arms still tighter around 
the old woman's waist, as she cried, " Aunt, 
dear Aunt Aileen, speak to me, kiss me 
once, only once ; the vessel is sinking, we 
have not long to live ! " 

Turning her dreary face towards the 
girl, the old woman looked steadfastly 
into her eyes. 

" We shall die," she said, in her solemn, 
querulous voice. " Yes, we shall die to- 
gether. Did I not say so ? The child 
follows the old woman, and shares the same 
fate. Did I not tell him so, Nina ? " 

Trembling and terror - stricken Nina 
stood before the gaunt form. The vacant 
eyes looked wild and wandering, the pale 
grey face gleamed ghastly. 



200 My Connaught Cousins. 

As she looked upon the figure and 
listened to the wild wandering words, 
Nina felt afraid, for she thought, " The 
fear of death is maddening her, she does 
not know what she says," and as the girl 
glanced at the breaking waves, felt the 
piercing wind, saw the impenetrable dark- 
ness gather thicker around her, and the 
sky flash down, as it were, upon her head, 
she cried, — 

" It was cruel to send her here, cruel, 
cruel." Then stretching forth her arms, 
she added, — '* Aunt Aileen, never talk like 
that ; try to forgive him now as I do." 

" You, child ; what have you to forgive ? 
Every sorrow that he heaped upon you will 
return like a firebrand to burn him ; little 
did he know what he did when he turned 
you away." 



My Connaught Cousins. 201 

" Oh ! what do you mean ? " cried Nina, 
still clinsjinor to her aunt. *' If there is some 
secret, tell me now, Aunt Aileen, before 
we die." 

" Tell you ? Yes, I will tell you, though 
I know you will turn from me, and 
hate me for it. But I am not solely to 
blame ; 'tis through him I have injured 
you. I never meant you harm, Xina, all 
I wanted was to be revenged . on him. My 
heart was full of hatred to the last. For 
it I sacrificed your life, and now, I have 
wrought your death." 

White and terrified Nina listened in 
wonder. 

" What does it aU mean '{ Aunt Aileen, 
tell me the truth ! " she cried ; but ere the 
old woman could reply, the yawl plunged 
down, buried in the water, then, rising 



202 My Connatight Cousins. 

again, suspended in the air on the crest of 
a wave, she descended again with a crash 
that shook her through. The waves arose 
and washed about her, but she remained 
split in twain, firmly fixed on unseen rocks, 
her stern raised in the air, and her bow 
plunged forward. 

It seemed that in one moment more the 
hull of the ship w^ould divide and sink 
beneath the waves. In the stern, the girl 
and the old woman sat hand-in-hand, 
as with wild eyes and pale face, Nina 
looked at the splitting planks of the 
vessel. 

Presently she spoke. 

" Aunt Aileen ! " 

The querulous voice replied sharply, — 

" Why should you call me aunt ? You 
are no kin of mine ; he is your father ! " 



My Connatig/if Cousins. 203 

" He ! whom ? " asked Xina, starting to 
her feet. 

" He who sent you here — he who shunned 
you, and cursed you for a witch ; the master 
of Cruna." 

Nina stood orazincf into the old woman's 
face in awe and wonder, while softly be- 
neath her breath, and with clay-cold lips, 
she repeated, — 

'' He ! my father ! '' 

" Yes," repeated the old woman, as some 
of the old wicked light gleamed again in 
her eyes. " He is your father, Nina — you 
are nothing to me ; body and soul, you 
belong to him. How bravely he cursed, 
his daughter, did he not, his only 
child?" then looking at the girl who 
still stood motionless as marble, she con- 
tinued, — 



204 My Connaught Cotisins. 

'' Turn from me, Nina, curse me now as 
I deserve, and make me feel that I am 
alone. You are his child ; flesh of his 
flesh, bone of his bone. Oh, Nina, how I 
hated you when I thought of this ; how 
my heart turned against you. I almost 
believed you were like him. I was hard 
and unkind when I looked into your pretty 
face and knew you belonged to him; and 
I kept you, I clutched you tighter, to 
keep you from him, when I thought how 
happy he would be if he knew. Nina, I 
did this — I have wronged you — made you 
an instrument to my revenge ; now turn 
from me, curse me as I deserve, and let me 
die ! " 

As the old woman paused, the girl threw 
up her arms and clasped them around the 
withered neck. 



My Connaught Coitsins. 205 

" God ! why did I not die before you 
told me this ? " she cried. " Auut, dearest 
aunt, come closer — whisper — tell me it is 
not true ! " 

" It is true, Nina," the old woman re- 
plied. '' ^Vhy do you cling to me like this V 

" Because I love you," the girl replied. 
" Dear Aunt Aileen, I have always loved 
you, but I cannot care for that man. Think 
of that — think of all that has passed, and 
pity me. God, have pity ! Aunt, do not 
turn away ; kiss me now, and say you love 
me too ! " 

A new light filled the old woman's eyes ; 
the grim expression of the face grew softer, 
and the hard lines about the mouth more 
gentle as Aileen looked down at the clinging 
form. For a moment she stood irresolute, 
then, trembling like a leaf, she bent her 



2o6 My Connaught Cousins. 

head, put her arms around the girl's neck, 
and kissed her lips. 

" I do love you," she murmured, " though 
God knows I never thought to love Az'.s* 
child. God forgive me, God forgive me!" 

Ardently Nina returned the cold caress, 
then with her arms about the old woman's 
neck she cried, — 

" Dear Aunt Aileen, pray God to forgive 
them all, and — " 

Suddenly the vessel gave a great lurch. 
Nina caught the rigging ; Aileen O'Connor 
was cast flat upon the deck. There was a 
roar of breaking waves ; the hull of the 
ship was split in two. Heeling forward, 
the forepart was soon buried in the foam, 
and that upon which Nina stood shook and 
trembled, and seemed to be heeling over 
into the waves. 



My Connaught Cousins. 207 

With a face pale as death Nina looked 
at the inrushing sea ; then she closed her 
eyes and fell upon her knees, clasping her 
arms around the old woman's neck with 
passionate sobs. Above the waves broke, 
and around the sea w^ashed, with a never- 
ceasing roar, while on the deck, covered 
with blinding foam, the two figures lay 
locked in a last embrace. 




CHAPTEE X. 




ITH dawn came calm. On the 
shore of Cruna Island the waters 
washed with dreary murmurs, 
while the peaks of the dripping crags which 
overhung the sea were enshrouded in a 
thick white mist, which loomed over the 
surface of the ocean, utterly concealing 
every object from view. Throughout the 
night, George Dunroon had wandered on 
the shore like a restless spirit, but no 
sooner did the dawn begin to break than 
he rowed out to the cutter which, on the 



My Connaught Cousins. 209 

previous night, had brought him home, 
and began making hasty preparations to 
set out in search of Nina. On the top of 
the Creag-na-Ghoill, which commanded a 
view of the surrounding ocean, a crowd of 
islanders were collected, while others stood 
on the shore, studying the movements of 
the young master, and uttering various 
commentaries upon his actions. 

"What's the good of it, at all, at all?" 
said one ; " sure the colleen's safe enough. 
That captain wasn't one to weather a 
storm, but he'd just run the yawl into Stor- 
port harbour, and keep her safe till morning." 

" Into Storport, is it ? " returned an- 
other ; " how could he do that, and the 
wind blowing due north-west ? No, no, 
she's either run south before the wind or 

foundered in open water.'* 

VOL. II. 



2 I o My Connatight Cousins. 

Suddenly there was a cry from the crowd 
on the top of the crag, and a dozen fingers 
were pointed seaward. For a moment the 
mist had scattered, and had disclosed to 
their view a momentary glimpse of some 
dark mass looming far out on the sea. 
George was at once summoned, but ere he 
had reached the spot the mist had again 
condensed, and again hung heavy over the 
waters. As the dawn advanced, it seemed 
to grow more dense, although here and 
there it became scattered like sea-smoke. 
Suddenly, however, the whole mass began 
to stir, and in one thick cloud it slowly 
lifted like a curtain from the sea. As it 
ascended, the surface of the ocean became 
clearly visible, and all now saw distinctly 
a huge black mass fixed between the 
sharp teeth of a reef of rocks, which 



My Coiinaught Cousins. 211 

arose black and jagged several miles from 
the shore. As George looked, his head 
turned dizzy, his heart stood still with 
anticipation. 

The hull of a small vessel of some sort 
was split in twain on the rocks, the bow 
being plunged forward in the waves, and 
the stern raised in the air. 

George turned to the crowd. 

*' You think it's the yawl ? " he asked in 
a low voice. 

" It looks like her, sir." 

"Get the boat," replied George; "we'll 
row out." 

" Sure 'tis no use, yer honor ; there's no 
living soul aboard that wreck ! " 

" Get the boat," commanded George 
again, "before it is too late!" 

Without another word the islanders ran 



212 My Connaught Cousins. 

forward to launch the skiff, while George 
followed them, glancing continually sea- 
ward. The prediction of the people seemed 
correct ; no living soul appeared on board 
the wreck ; nothing was visible but the 
black hull itself. George's heart sank, but 
he did not despair. Nina might be below, 
he thought ; she might be in some corner 
of the vessel hidden from his sight. Im- 
patiently he urged on the men, as, sitting 
in the stern of the skiff, he directed her 
course towards the reef. 

As the boat left the shore and drew 
nearer the rocks, George, still watching 
the wreck, thought he could distinguish 
a figure on the deck. As he ap- 
proached closer, however, his view of the 
deck was cut off, the stern of the yawl 
Lavino^ heeled over, and her broadside 



My Con naught Cousins. 213 

being presented to the surf. The sea was 
calm ; but near the rocks the water was 
sucked up and cast back so violently, that 
approach was perilous. Keeping a distance 
from the crag, the men pulled cautiously 
round, and were about to cling on to 
the wreck when there was a sudden tumult 
and a cry, — 

" Pull for your lives ! " 

The skiff had darted only a short dis- 
tance from the wreck when the yawl sepa- 
rated. The fore part, plunging entirely 
forward, sank beneath the water. The 
sterD quivered, and seemed about to fol- 
low. George rose, prepared to jump over- 
board, when he was forcibly retained in his 
seat, and the skiff once more pulled to- 
wards the wreck. Pausing beneath the 
stern, one of the men threw up a grapnel ; 



214 ^y Connaught Cousins, 

and George, divested of boots and coat, 
seized the rope, and before he could be 
stopped, was swinging in the air, ascend- 
ing the rope which hung from the vessel. 

A minute after, he stood on the deck 
of the yawl. There he paused, gazing 
upon a sight which froze the blood in his 
veins. Lying flat on the deck, her black 
clothes drenched and clinging feebly about 
her form, and her grey hair scattered 
like drift-weed around her, was Aileen 
O'Connor, stone-dead. Sitting close be- 
side this figure, with her eyes fixed vacantly 
upon the ghastly face, was another — living. 
Drenched too from head to foot — her face 
pale as that of the corpse beside her, her 
long hair hanging about her shoulders ; 
one hand, bruised and bleeding, supported 
her chin ; the other hung listlessly by her 



My Connaught Cousins. 215 

side. She sat motionless, like one in a 
total trance. For a moment George stood 
chained to the spot, gazing in speechless 
agony at the figures ; then he walked 
forward, fell upon his knees, and clasped 
Nina passionately in his arms. The girl 
did not speak nor start ; but quietly rais- 
ing her eyes, she looked into his face with 
a vacant, bewildered stare. 

One by one the islanders clambered upon 
the deck, and stood looking upon the 
scene, and into their faces Nina glanced 
with the same vacant look in her eyes. 
Lifting the corpse of Aileen O'Connor, 
they conveyed it to the skiff, and quietly 
and unresistingly Nina followed. When 
lhe boat reached land the girl stood on 
the shore like one in a dream ; but George 
put his arm around her and led her home. 



2 1 6 My Connaiight Cousins. 

For many weeks after that day the 
girl lay raving in fever, hovering on 
the brink of death. Anxiously George 
watched in the sick-room ; while Mr Dun- 
roon, with bowed head and gloomy coun- 
tenance, walked the house in sullen silence. 
After prolonged suffering, Nina gradually 
began to improve ; and as she slowly re- 
gained her health, the vacant look which 
had haunted George began to fade from 
her eyes, and a more intelligent light 
illuminated them, until, at last, she fully 
recovered the reason which she had tem- 
porarily lost. The expression of her face 
was sadder than it had been ; her voice 
was gentle and very tender. The awful 
anguish which she had endured had left 
its mark. 

For a time she was utterly unable to shake 



My Connaught Cousins. 217 

off the morbid depression which weighed 
upon her. George was most constant in 
his attentions, and, as Nina gradually im- 
proved under his care, he at length pressed 
her to fulfil the promise which she had made 
to him long before. After much hesitation, 
Nina consented. The two were married, 
and forthwith took up their abode in the 
gloomy dwelling of the Master of Cruna. 

True to his promise, Mr Dunroon recog- 
nised Nina as his daughter, though he 
never exhibited towards her a fathers 
affection, but submitted in sullen silence 
to his fate. Yet Nina's friendliness gradu- 
ally gained some influence over his hard 
nature, and he beo^an to grow more gentle 
in his bearing as years went by. 

After it had been conveyed to the land, 
and received the sacred rites of the Church, 



2i8 My Connaught Cousins, 

the body of tlie old woman was buried 
near the sands of the surging sea. The 
grass grows green above her, the sea-smoke 
dashes over her head, and the stone upon 
which, during life, she had been wont to 
gaze, at length marks the last resting- 
place of 

AiLEEN O'Connor." 




CHAPTER XL 




fire. 



S I finished the story, the book 
fell upon my knee, and my eyes 
rested sadly upon the dying 



I had been strangely interested, for 
the characters were so faintly disguised, 
that, after the first few pages, I had 
had little difficulty in recognising them ; 1 
understood now the meaning of that light 
which had so puzzled me as I had gazed 
into my hostess's sorrowful face ; I under- 
stood now the look of intense pain which 



2 20 My Connaught Cousins. 

had crossed her countenance when I lightly 
spoke of witchcraft ; and the interest which 
I already felt for this beautiful creature and 
her husband increased tenfold. 

I got little sleep that night, and, shortly 
after daybreak, I rose, weary with courting 
slumber. 

I was the first to descend the stairs, so 
I quietly let myself out of the house, and 
went for a stroll towards the sea. 

Some time later, as I was returning to 
the house, I met Nora. 

** Have you read the story ? " she asked. 

"Yes." 

""Well, then, I needn't tell you to be 
careful not to talk about witchcraft aofain. 
It's twenty years since all that happened, 
and yet Nina feels as strongly about it as 
ever, I think. ... Do you see that grave- 



My Connatight Cousins. 221 

yard on the hillside ? old Mr Dunroon is 
buried there ; and, if you will come with 
me, m show you the old woman's tomb." 

We walked away, and soon came to it, — 
a quaintly-fashioned tombstone set in the 
earth close to the sea. On it was traced, 
in letters which were fast wearing away, — 

AiLEEN O'Connor, 

Drowned at Sea on the 30th day of January 18 — . 
May She rest in Peace. 

The stone was in good order, and evi- 
dently tended by careful hands. 

"Nina hadn't much cause to love her," 
said Nora ; " but you see she cares for her 
even after so many years." 

"We turned to retrace our steps towards 
the house ; presently Nora paused again, 
and drew my attention to a heap of stones. 



2 22 My Connaught Cousins. 

" That is where the hut stood," she said, 
" the hut that poor Nina saw burnt to the 
ground while she was being driven out to 
sea, — it is the memory of that time which 
makes them determined to live here, to 
improve the people, and to prevent the 
repetition of such a scene." 

We stayed several days on Cruna Island, 
the guests of the master and his wife. "We 
fished his rivers, shot over his land, and 
altogether managed to get some of the best 
sport we had had for months. But at 
last the visit terminated, and the day of 
our departure really arrived. 

In our little craft was stowed away 
most of the game, and a couple of the 
salmon we had killed, and which they 
insisted upon our taking. 

Kathleen was loaded with presents for 



Aly Cojmatight Cousins. 223 

the girls who had remained at home, while 
I had been forced to accept one of Dun- 
roon s most valuable dogs. Altogether the 
leave-takinor was affectino;, and we were 
overwhelmed with invitations to come 
again. 

We had intended to leave pretty early, 
but the leave - taking and the gathering 
together of the presents had so delayed 
us, that ere we finally pushed off, and 
took a last farewell of Cruna, the day 
was w^ell nigh spent. 

There was a fair breeze blowing, so we 
put up the sail, and the Ariel, bending 
slightly to one side, sped onward like a 
bird. We looked back, my imcle and I 
waved our hats, the girls their handker- 
chiefs, for there, on the beach, stood Dun- 
roon and his wife ; they had accompanied 



2 24 My Connaught Cousins. 

us down to the beach, and they now 
stood watching our boat as it sped out 
to sea. 

We sailed right across, but when we 
reached the other side the sail had to 
come down, and the men took to their 
oars again. By this time it was twilight. 
The silence of night had fallen on land 
and sea ; the wild cry of the sea-birds 
rang with strange echoes through the night. 
The lofty cliffs, magnified by the dim light, 
towered up above the glassy waters, which 
washed unceasingly about their feet, while 
the heavens were sparkling in all their 
starry radiance. Ever and anon, as we 
glided by the crags, we were startled by a 
great flutter of wings, and some frightened 
sea-bird, awakened from its slumbers by 
the splashing of the oars, passed so close 



My Connaught Cousins. 225 

to me, that his winsrs almost brushed mv 
cheek, and his shrill cries resounded with 
stranofe echoes through the nio-ht, as he 
faded slowly away. 

When we leapt on to the shore at 
Storport it was quite dark ; we were 
rather tired, and anxious to get back to 
the cosy comfort of the Lodge. We were 
soon ready to depart ; my uncle had given 
his instructions to the boatmen, and I had 
managed to get possession of Oona's hand, 
when suddenly we were arrested. 

Kathleen was accosted by an old man, 
who implored her to go with him to see 
his daughter, who was sick. Kathleen 
must go at once, or the woman might 
die before she could reach the house. 

Kathleen did not hesitate — she was well 
used to such demands. She paused for a 

VOL. II. p 



226 My Connaught Cousins, 

moment, to give some instructions to Nora 
and Oona, then she turned to follow the 
nian alone. 

This I would not permit. In spite of 
her protestations, I insisted upon accom- 
panying her ; so, after impressing upon 
the girls to be sure and have a substan- 
tial meal ready for us when we got back, 
we walked off together in the old man's 
wake. 

We followed him for about a mile over 
the hills, stumbling through the darkness, 
and tumbling in and out of miserable bog- 
holes, until we stood before a low thatched 
hut, surrounded with filth. 

When we entered, the smoke was so 
thick that I could see nothing, but I 
heard the grunting of pigs, the babbling 
of old hags, and the moans of the sick 



My Connatight Cotcsins. 227 

woman, and next I was startled by tlio 
lowing of a cow, which was standing close 
to my side. The smell which met us was 
so offensive that I saw Kathleen pause 
and turn, as if about to rush again into 
the open air ; but remembering, doubtless, 
the poor woman who was lying helplessly 
there, and to whom she might be of some 
service, she strengthened up her failing 
spirit, and took her stand. By-and-by 
the smoke cleared, and we could distinctly 
see all the objects in the room. 

In a corner stood a dilapidated four- 
post bedstead, which, to my astonish- 
ment, was unoccupied ; but on the floor, 
before the fire, was strewn a little straw, 
and upon that lay the sick woman, look- 
ing pale as death, and uttering feeble 
moans. Around her squatted the hags, 



2 28 My Connaught Cousins, 

some on the floor, some on benches, and 
one was actually sitting upon the upturned 
black cauldron. They were most of them 
smoking, some were profusely weeping, and 
all were waiting for the sufferer to die, 
without lifting a finger either to try and 
save her or to alleviate her sufi'erings in 
any way. At the time this amazed me, 
but I have since learned that it is the 
true Connaught mode. When a woman 
is taken ill, she does not say, " Send for 
the doctor," or ask for help ; her exclama- 
tion is, "I'm done — send for the priest," 
and she tries to compose herself for death. 
.Sometimes, by a miracle, she recovers, but 
more frequently she dies. 

Behind the invalid stood a group of 
men, commenting in audible whispers upon 
her ghastly look, and the certainty of her 



My Connaiight Cousins. 229 

death ; all of which remarks were followed 
by feeble moans from the sufferer. 

When Kathleen approached, the woman 
raised her eyes, and fixed them pitifully 
upon her face, and the women, with a 
wild gabble of Irish, which I supposed 
must be words of welcome, made way for 
her. She bent over the sufferer, then I 
saw her rise and draw back, the smell 
was so great as to be too much even for 
her. The rag^s with which the sufferer 
was clothed, and the rags which were 
thrown over her, were positively decayed 
wath filth. 

Kathleen spoke rapidly to the men in 
Irish, and they shuffled out of the house ; 
after a deal of rapid talking, she induced 
half the crowd of old women to follow 
them : then she turned to me. 



230 My Connaught Cousins, 

" Jack," she said, " do you still persist iii 
waiting for me ? If so, I must get you 
either to step into a little room over there, 
where the horse is stabled, or wait outside. 
I must make them wash the poor creature, 
and put her into bed, before I can do any- 
thing ; the stench is frightful." 

I again expressed my determination to 

wait for her, and elected to do so in the 

I 

open air. I took a cigar from my pocket, 
lit it with a burning sod from the hearth, 
and stepped at once outside the cabin. 

As I walked up and down in the dark- 
ness, I could not help thinking of my 
cousin, and the kind of life which she had 
set herself to lead. I could not but ad- 
mire Kathleen, for I knew what she had 
to endure. The cause of half the diseases 
in the village, was the dirt and filth in 



My Connaitght Cousins. 231 

which the people lived. Soap and water 
and clean linen were Kathleen's prin- 
cipal remedies, and in most cases they 
were marvellously successful. 

The ignorance of the people is pitiful ; 
more than half the population of the 
village are unable to read a single sentence 
or form a letter. But they do not regret. 
They are not ambitious ; they are content 
to live as their fathers did before them, — 
to cut and gather turf, and to cultivate a 
small piece of ground which is rented with 
each hut. The spirit of enterprise never 
once rises in their dull and listless dis- 
positions. They plod through their lives 
without the slightest variation or enlight- 
enment, and they quietly fall to sleep, 
leaving their children to pursue the same 
course after them. 



232 My Connaught Cousins. 

Yet, with all their faults, they are very 
generous and kind-hearted. The stranger 
is. ever made welcome to their hearth 
and board, and if they receive a kindness, 
however slight, they always endeavour to 
make ample return. 

The only little bit of deception in which 
they indulge is the making of Potheen, or 
mountain-dew. Although there is in the 
village a barrack full of military-looking 
policemen, and despite the fact that several 
illicit stills are yearly found and seized, 
and their owners compelled to pay the 
heavy fine of six pounds, the authorities 
have not been able to stop the sale or 
manufacture of this contraband article. 
But the fluid is not traded in to any great 
extent ; it is made principally for home 
use, to keep out the cold in the winter 



Aly Conn aught Cousins. 233 

time, when the snow is thickly covering 
the frozen ground, and the cold, north 
wind is blowing in from the storm-tossed 
sea. Poor, half-frozen creatures ! what 
would life be worth to them without this 
one comfort ? It is the delight, the 
excitement, and the only one luxury of 
their lives. A solitary people in a solitary 
waste, living with their pigs and cattle in 
wretched little mud-huts, their only cloth- 
ing a few dirty rags, and their only food 
potatoes ; who could deny them this ? 

My reflections were brought to an end 
by the sudden appearance of a cauliagh, 
who invited me to re-enter the cabin. I 
did so, and found matters considerably 
improved. The sick woman, clean and- 
comfortably clothed, was lying now upon 
the bed in a calm sleep. Kathleen, looking 



2 34 ^y Connaught Cousins. 

flushed and somewhat tired, was fastening 
on her cloak. All her thoughts, as usual, 
were for some one else. 

" You must be tired, Jack," she said ; 
*' have a glass of something before we start, 
— there's plenty of potheen, and milk, too, 
in the house ; " and the old man who had 
brought us thither added his entreaties, 
but I refused. In truth, I was anxious 
that Kathleen should get back. She 
turned to the old man again, — 

" Follow us down as soon as you like," 
she said ; *' I shall prepare your basket as 
soon as I get home." Then she took my 
arm, and we departed. 

When we reached the Lodge, a very 
different picture awaited us. In the dining- 
room a bright fire filled the grate, and 
about a dozen candles were burning. My 



My Co7inaught Cousins. 235 

uncle was in his easy-chair, quietly enjoy- 
ing his pipe, and watching Amy, who, 
kneeling on the hearth, was trying to make 
Nero give my dog a welcome. Oona, clad 
again in her favourite white, was seated 
at the piano, playing some tender Irish 
airs ; while Nora, with the others kneel- 
ing before her, was exhibiting the presents 
which had been sent by the mistress of Cruna. 
The table was spread for a good dinner. 

The girls welcomed us with a cry of 
delight, for two of them, at least, were 
hungry, and eager to begin. But, although 
Kathleen was tired to death, her first care 
was to prepare the basket of necessaries 
which she had promised to send up to the 
sick woman. 

This done, we were at liberty to enjoy 
ourselves. 



236 My Connatight Cousins. 

Our meal over, I lit my cigar, and some 
of us strolled to the kitchen to have a chat 
with the men, who we believed must by 
this time have finished their meal, and be 
enjoying their pipes by the fire. Our 
imaginary picture had been partly right, 
but it remained for our eyes to complete 
it. The men had finished their meal, lit 
up their pipes, and were seated around 
the fire ; but their eyes were fixed with 
strange intensity upon a figure — no other, 
indeed, than ConoUy, who, paper in hand, 
was reading, with an evident sense of 
enjoyment, an account of a double murder 
which had recently been committed. He- 
was greatly excited, for his hands and 
voice both trembled, as he exclaimed, in 
conclusion, — 

"They both fell dead^-stone dead — 



My Connaught Coicsifis. 237 

and I say, more power to the hand that 
done it ! " 

" Conolly, you blackguard ! " shouted 
my uncle, who stood at the kitchen door, 
" put that paper in the fire ! " 

He dropped the paper and looked up, 
and I saw at once that something was 
wrono\ He had been drinkinor. There 

o o 

was a wandering light in his eyes, his jaw 
was set, and instead of the usual smile of 
infantine mildness, his face wore a look 
of sullen and fixed resolve. Was this 
Conolly ? I could hardly believe it — 
the change was so complete. 

" Do you hear what I say, Conolly ? " 
repeated my uncle ; " put that paper in 
the fire ! " 

** What way, yer honor ? " answered the 
man, still grasping the paper firmly in 



238 My Connaught Cousins, 

his hand ; " what harm can the paper 
do entirely ? " 

" Not much of itself, but a good deal if 
left with you. Listen to me, ConoUy, 
I won't have you coming here and cor- 
rupting the boys and girls with your 
lawless talk and lawless ways. I won't 
have you read to them all the accounts 
of these crimes which are a disgrace to 
Ireland." 

" A disgrace to Ireland," said Conolly 
quietly ; " sure, yer honor, them's not the 
only crimes that's a disgrace to the land ! " 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Just this, sor," continued Conolly, 
who was growing more and more excited, 
" there be murders and murders. All 
the world knows that for years the poor 
Irishman has been crushed like a beast 



My Connaught Cousins, 239 

beneath the cruel foot of the landlord — 
he's had to feel the pinch of starvation, 
and see his children die all round him 
for lack of food ; he's had to be turned out 
of the house that has sheltered him since 
he was born, and maybe to die in the 
ditch like a dog. Well, the world says 
nothing to all this ; but when some poor 
devil, in self-defence, strikes at the tyrant 
that has been crushing him into his grave, 
the world calls out and says it's murder, 
and thirsts for the poor cratur's blood." 

" And so it is murder ! " said my uncle. 

" You think so, yer honor ? Well, I 
don't. I call it justice ; and when I hear 
that another t}Tant is down, I say, ' Praise 
be to God, more power to the hand that 
done it ! '" 

" More shame for you. If a man won't 



240 My Connaught Cousins. 

pay his rent he ought to be turned 
out." 

''Sure 'tisn't always that he won't; 
sometimes he can't," said Conolly ; " and 
as to the turning out, yer honor didn't 
say the likes 0' that when Mr O'Neil — God 
blasht his soul ! — turned me out of house 
and home that winter when I was down 
with the fever. He refused to give me 
bite or sup, and told me if I didn't choose 
to go to the workhouse I might die in the 
road ; but 'twas yer honor that took me 
in, and gave me work, and kept me from 
committing murder. I don't forget the 
man that took me in any more than I 
forget the one that turned me out." 

The speaker was very much excited ; his 
eyes glared and his hand clenched, and, 
for the first time in his life perhaps, he 



My Connaicght Cousins, 241 

looked really capable of bloodshed. My 
uncle evidently saw this, for he turned the 
conversation to other themes. 

"Well," he said, '' I'm too tired to 
discuss these questions to-night, Conolly ; 
besides, I didn't come to the kitchen for 
that, but to ask you if you could manage 
to sleep here to-night ? " 

" Is it to-night, yer honor ? " said 
ConoUy quietly, and looking decidedly 
uncomfortable. He evidently didn't like 
to refuse my uncle, and yet we could see 
he had made other plans. My uncle 
seeing this, grew firmer in his resolve. 

"' It's the first favour you've ever done 
me, and maybe it'll be the last. Will 
ye sleej) here to-night or not, Conolly. 
Yes or no ? " 

After a good deal of hesitation Conolly 

VOL. II. Q 



242 My Connaught Cousins, 

consented to remain. Then my uncle 
added carelessly, — 

" By the way, ConoUy, will ye lend me 
the paper a bit ? I should like to read the 
news." 

And Conolly having reluctantly handed 
it over, we returned to the dining-room to 
smoke our last pipe before going to bed. 

*^ I'm afraid," he said, " poor Conolly 
will get himself into trouble some day. 
Whenever he gets a drop of drink it's the 
old cry — down with tyrants in general, and 
one tyrant in particular. I wouldn't have 
given much for O'Neil's life if he'd met 
Conolly on a dark road to-night." 

END OF VOL. II. 



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AMICO'S IJTTLE GIRL. By Miss Montgomery 
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COURT JOURNAL says : — " The world of art, both of music and 
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the diflferent personages in Italy and Germany." 

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F. V. WHITE & Co.'s New Publications. 7 

MISCELLANEOUS PUBLICATIONS. 

THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF FRED. 
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8 F. V. WHITE & Co.'s New Publications. 



IN THE PRESS. 



THE JUYENILE LEAD. By Florence Marryat, 

Author of *' My Sister the Actress," *' A Broken 
Blossom," &c. 3 vols. 

FRIENDS AND LOVERS. By Annie Thomas, 

Author of " Dennis Donne," &c. 3 vols. 

MOLLIE DARLING. By Lady Constance 

Howard, Author of " Sweetheart and Wife." 3 vols. 

A NOBLE NAME. By the late Mrs. Buxton 

and W. W. Fenn, Authors of " Jennie of the Prince's" 
and " Blindman's Holiday." 3 vols. 

THE TOWER GARDENS. By Lizzie Alldridge, 

Author of " By Love and Law," " The World She 
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OUT OF THE PALE. By Mrs. Eiloart, 

Author of " My Lady Clare," &c. 3 vols. 

JACK FORRESTER, THE HARROVIAN. A 

Romance. By Laurence Brooke, Author of " Three 
Fair Daughters," " The Queen of Two Worlds," &c. 
3 vols. 

ON DANGEROUS GROUND. By Miss Edith 

Stewart Drewry. 3 vols. 

IN THE HAVEN. By Miss C. G. Hamilton, 

Author of " After a Dark Night the Sun." 3 vols. 



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